AFPP 2023 Full Programme

Alternative Futures & Popular Protest, 2023

Please see the current version of the programme below; click titles to see abstracts and keywords.
Additional programme information:

Note: all times are in British Summer Time (= GMT/UTC+1).

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Monday 12th June, 2023

12:00 – 13:00 Opening Lunch

Milk and Honey, St Peter’s House, Oxford Road, M13 9PL. Registration and pre-payment required. Queries to Kevin Gillan.
13:00 – 13:30 Conference Registration

Please come and find the registration desk in the Humanities Bridgeford Street foyer.
13:30 – 15:00 Session 1
Panel 1A

Socialism and Democracy in Contemporary Europe
Panel coordinator(s): Xavier Granell (Autonomous University of Madrid) & Jaume Montés (University of Barcelona)

Socialism and Democracy in Contemporary Europe: Social Movements, Political Thought and Memory (19th-20th centuries)
Coordinator(s): Xavier Granell (Autonomous University of Madrid) & Jaume Montés (University of Barcelona)
In recent decades several scholars have pointed out the need to revisit the history of democratization processes, emphasizing the relevance of focusing on the political practices and discourses of the historical agents. However, the history of democracy has been chronologically too often fragmented and, above all, confined to the political dimension it took on in the twentieth century. In this panel, we aim to review the history of democracy from one of its cultural and historical cores, socialism, taking a longue durée transnational approach. We will focus our panel on different European countries and their connections, particularly in the Spanish, British, and French cases. Although the approximation to the historical meaning of democracy and its relationship with the projects of socioeconomic transformation in the French (socialist democracy of 1848) and British (post-war social contract) contexts have been analysed, its link with other parallel phenomena of the Spanish geography (the reception and reappropriation of the discourses of the first socialists, the Spanish Regional Federation of the International Working Men’s Association, or the revolutionary experiences of the Civil War) has not received the attention that is deserved and that we propose to examine in this panel. Furthermore, the transnational approach allows us to explore the selected cases from the interconnections and the personal and conceptual exchanges that took place, highlighting their relevance at the European level.
Keywords: Socialism, Democracy, Europe, Republicanism, Property, Memory.
Chair: Xavier Granell & Jaume Montés

Location: G6
Xavier Granell
(Autonomous University of Madrid)
Beyond capitalism. Transnational democracy and social question in the mid-19th century: an approach from southern republicanism
Abstract: To refer to the long 19th century, authors like John Markoff have spoken about a wave of democracy. Other authors like Christopher Bayly or Jürgen Osterhammel show that there was a world revolutionary age in the second half of the century. However, the proposals for social reform that emerged among the European Radical groups have not always been considered the importance they deserve. The defence of the right of association, workers’ cooperatives, or the right to work was key in the society of independent and associated producers’ ideal. In this lecture, I will focus on southern republicanism’s transnational democratic projects, as well as the social reform proposals that were at the core of an important part of European radicalism in the mid-nineteenth century. To do so, I will use a biographical history strategy based on the Spanish republican, socialist and democrat Fernando Garrido Tortosa (1821-1883).
Jaume Montés
(University of Barcelona, presenting remotely)
The ‘socialism’ of Francisco Pi y Margall: a fiduciary conception of property
Abstract: This communication aims to explore the concept of ‘socialism’ in the thought of Francisco Pi y Margall (1824-1901), one of the most important republican leaders of 19th century Spain who would become president of the brief First Republic. Starting from different bibliographic and newspaper sources of the author, I will try to argue that Pi’s socialist positions, opposed to those of classical political economy, drink from a fiduciary conception of property, which will allow him to argue that the State (and, to through it, society) has the capacity to modify existing legal and economic relations. The controversy around socialism and individualism will have great importance in the ideological and organizational definition of the Democratic Party during the 1860s and, especially, during the debates on the legality of the FRE-IWMA in 1871. Given the recent social and academic interests for regulating capitalist absolute property, it seems pertinent to re-examine a concept of socialism located beyond Marxist dogmatic schemes.
Aina Casassas Sanz
(Autonomous University of Barcelona)
“This enemy has not ceased to be victorious”: Revisiting Spanish Civil War’s memory through the eyes of Walter Benjamin
Abstract: Due to its recent democratization process, the politics of memory in Spain are particularly young, especially with regard to its immediate past. Nevertheless, the way in which the 20th century is recalled remains a contentious issue on today’s political agenda. The present communication intends to critically address how the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) is remembered through the remembrance of certain symbols which were significant to the conflict. To examine the spatial testimony of this dispute, Pierre Nora’s lieux de mémoire [sites of memory] will be considered. This approach will allow us to reflect on a past which is not brought to a close, but constantly opened to a political reinterpretation. However, we will re-orient Nora’s approach towards the Republican significance of these sites, rather than their role in national identity. To do so, the fight for the past will be revisited, following Walter Benjamin’s On the Concept of History (1939). Taking Benjamin’s “Messianic Power”, we aim to discuss the existing political disputes around the war as a fight for memory and how these sites of memory can reveal the revolutionary potential behind memory.
Julio Martínez-Cava
(Autonomous University of Barcelona)
Democracy, Property Rights and Socialism in the 1950s British debate
Abstract: Since the outbreak of the Cold War in 1947 the European socialists found for the first time that they could no longer rely on their “upward march” toward socialism. Although their incredible electoral results were unprecedented, no revolution seemed to be in the offing, nor the internal contradictions of capitalism seemed to be leading it to collapse. Quite the contrary: the Postwar Social Contract had contributed ushered in a period of political stability and economic growth that would deeply transform European societies. This pact consisted of an attempt to establish a balance between the interests of capital and labour, and to this end the forces of labour had postponed their goal of democratising economic life through the socialisation of private property. Against this new backdrop, a great debate was opened in Britain during the 1950s about the relevance of socialist ideas on property rights. In sum, did the post-war pact open a new and favourable political field for the deepening of an anti-capitalist line, or was it rather the consolidation of a reformed and thus more solid and stable capitalism? In this conference, I will try to reconstruct the general outlines of this debate in which old socialists (GDH Cole), Labour revisionists (A. Crosland), communists (M. Dobb) or New Left Marxists (Stuart Hall, E. P. Thompson, Ralph Miliband, Dorothy Towers) took part. Finally, it was the survival democratising the whole of economic and social life that was at stake.
Panel 1B
Chair: Kevin Gillan

Location: G7
Tom Vörkel
(University of Leipzig, Germany)
What time is it? Temporalities of protests and the quest for democracy in feminist theory
Abstract: The problem of temporality has received relatively little attention in protest and movement research until now. Movement research has focused on describing waves of protest and interaction sequences or emphasized that protest events are only the most visible part of movements that take a great deal of time preparing. But why should protests be considered as events at all? What are alternative perspectives? What are the implications of the temporal structure of protests in terms of their democratic function?
In recent years, feminist social theory has made a major contribution to thinking more specifically about the temporality of protests. However, this contribution has rarely been acknowledged so far. My proposed contribution to the conference, which is a part of my PhD-project, would try to fill this gap.
First, I argue that liberal democracies are based on a continuous, linear temporality, which, however, does not exclude ruptures. In a second step, I reconstruct three different concepts of temporality of protests from feminist theory. The first position, represented by Judith Butler and Jodi Dean, understands protests as a rupture, which, however, does not question the linear temporality of liberal democracy. The second position declares that protests establish a new form of temporality that can be grasped in terms of Walter Benjamin’s Jetztzeit, as Isabell Lorey and Verónica Gago have argued. The third position represented by Eva von Redecker, describes protests as a struggle against the loss of time in the neoliberal era. All three approaches will be illustrated by empirical examples of protest from recent years.
In a final step, I will argue that the three theoretical approaches should not be combined into one position. Instead, protests can take any of these forms of temporality. The temporal structure of the protests determines whether they take on a liberal-conservative, progressive, or regressive character.
Keywords: Temporality, Protest, Democracy, Feminist Theory
Lesley Wood
(York University)
Temporal Conflict and Challenging the Police
Abstract: Individual and collective actors vary in their perceptions, conceptions and practices of time. This diversity in temporality can become a barrier to collaboration and coalition building. However, its impact on contentious politics is less well understood. This paper examines how temporal conflicts shape protests as they challenge police power. Emphasizing the social construction of time, its multiplicity and its relationship to authority, this paper uses the concept of temporal conflicts to better understand 3 recent struggles between police and abolitionist protesters. It shows how the dominant temporality of police consistently works to reassert itself against challenges. It finds that temporal conflicts shape miscommunications between opponents, facilitating strategic missteps. It shows how temporal conceptions and practices become means of struggle, as the speed, duration and timing of actions and the explanation of those actions is managed strategically, and opponents manage these to build power.
Keywords: time, Lefebvre, protest, strategy, abolition, Tilly
Birgan Gokmenoglu, Gabriela Manley
(Birmingham City University)
Hoping as time work in post-referenda Scotland in Turkey: Future oriented temporalities in dystopian contexts
Abstract: This paper examines the temporal underpinnings of hope as a key element of political action under dystopian circumstances. It is based on a comparative study of the authors’ long-term ethnographic studies: First, an ethnography of the activists for national independence of the Scottish National Party following the 2016 Brexit referendum and second, the anti-authoritarian activists of the local “no” assemblies in Istanbul around the 2017 constitutional referendum in Turkey. Analysing the temporal dynamics of hope and dystopia in contemporary Scotland and Turkey, this article finds that the generation and maintenance of hope require an agentic orientation to time, which, in these cases, manifested in the temporal imaginations, narratives, and performances of activists. It further shows how dystopian imaginations, when taken as critical evaluations of the present, may enable the collective creation of hope through opening up the indeterminate future to possibilities of political transformation. We thus argue that hope among activists against dystopian futures necessitates not only “emotion work” but also “time work”, drawing out the future-oriented temporal dynamics of the emotion of hope. Drawing on and contributing to theories of utopia and dystopia, studies on the role of emotions in social change, and anthropological and sociological work on futures, time, and temporality, this study offers a temporal approach to studies of social movements and emotions.
Keywords: Hope, emotion, utopia and dystopia, time and temporality, future
Benjamin Abrams
(University College London (UCL))
The Dynamics of Spontaneity in Social and Revolutionary Movements: The Rise of the Masses?
Abstract: Spontaneity has long constituted a recurrent mystery in the study of social movements and revolutions. As far back as the French Revolution of 1789, it has been this element that– in the words of the historian George Rude– ‘defies a more exact analysis’ when seen from conventional structural or collective behavioural perspectives. And yet, as societies around the world have changed and developed, spontaneous revolutions and uprisings have stubbornly remained a thorny but essential feature of social life. Tens of millions across the Middle East and North Africa sprung into action as part of 2011’s intense, unexpected ‘Arab Spring’, followed by millions more worldwide who joined ‘Occupy’ protests against the global financial crisis. More recently, between 15 and 26 million Americans joined the 2020 ‘Black Lives Uprising’: a series of enormous protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis Police that took even established activists and protest groups by surprise.

This paper– drawing on a decade of historical and interview research– addresses why and how people spontaneously join revolutions and uprisings. While many aspects of these phenomena require tremendous resources and organizing, instances of spontaneity often involve people with no connection to organized movements taking to the streets, largely of their own accord. Looking to the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and the Black Lives Uprising, as well as the 1789 French Revolution, I develop a new theory that bridges large scale structural shifts with actors’ aggregated individual and group-based predispositions to explain this spontaneous element: affinity-convergence theory.

Keywords: spontaneity, mobilization, theory, affinty, convergence, uprisings
Alba Arenales
(Queen’s University Belfast)
Riot organising practices of the PIRA’s supportive community (1969-1998)
Abstract: Frequently defined as emotional and spontaneous outbursts, riots are a violent form of action that have received little attention compared to other forms of action within the social movements field, while participants are seldom included in the research. This paper will explore riots that occurred during the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1998, which the PIRA’s supportive community participated in. The paper aims to study areas of research that have been neglected and presents preliminary findings from 19 in-depth biographical interviews with participants in riots. It seeks to examine the level of organisation involved in anti-state riots through an identification of the organising practices present in related narratives (triangulated with other data, when possible). Building on the recent research on the distinction between organisation and organising (den Hond et al., 2016, Gunzelmann, 2021, 2022), my research indicates that anti-state riots were often planned in advance and involved a significant level of coordination. The research suggests that caution should be exercised when treating the concept of spontaneity in riots, and in turn, opens the possibility of considering this form of action as a tactic.
Keywords: Riots, Spontaneity, Organisation, PIRA, Community, Troubles
Panel 1C
Chair: Josh Bunting

Location: G32
Andre Sales
(Puc/Sp – York University)
Militância and Ativismo: Two Forms of Political Consciousness
Abstract: This paper explores Brazilian protesters’ preference for the terms militância or ativismo using the Political Conscientiousness model. This framework understands consciousness as a mosaic of changing information, shifting emotions, and fluid meanings. Individual and collective consciousness are informed by seven intertwined dimensions: societal beliefs and expectations, collective identity, perceived collective interests, political efficacy, feelings toward adversaries, willingness to act collectively, and persuasive action proposals. I adopt the model to revisit previous studies and argue that the tension in the duo militância-ativismo stems from distinct configurations of political conscientiousness and informs two strategic rationales. Militância is an antagonist strategy driven by a rigid morality and designed to transform the current social norms entirely under the premise of a better life in an ideal Future. Consequently, it leads militantes to frame their opponents as enemies and develop their tactical actions to exterminate anything that could jeopardize the conquest of the sought-after Future they are fighting for. It intends to completely transform the current social norms so that people can experience an ideal society in a distant Future. Ativismo refers to a prefigurative agonist strategy tailored to allow an exploratory approach in the political arena. It is driven by a flexible ethic encouraging ativistas to experiment with non-hegemonic social norms through their protest activities. It intends to make protesters taste here and now modes of sociability aligned to the sought-after Future they are fighting for.
Keywords: Militancy, prefigurative activism, Latin America, Protest, political participation
Josephine Becker
(University of Vigo, Post Growth Innovation Lab)
Power, privilige and prefiguration: means to disrupt the existing order within social movement spaces
Abstract: In pursuit to enhance social movement studies on anti-oppression politics and praxis, this paper aims to bring forth lessons from an ongoing ‘militant ethnography’ (Juris, 2007) situated in an anti-capitalist and climate justice movement. Where fossil capitalism is considered a main target, colonialism, patriarchy, racism, and other forms of hierarchy and domination are considered integral to the political struggle of the youth climate movement here. Meanwhile, examples of ‘white environmentalism’ or ‘gendered division of actions’ have led to frustrations and inaccessibility and raises questions how patterns of (re)production of hierarchical power dynamics can be broken, not just in the institutional spheres but also within social movement spaces. This paper draws out first insights from the ongoing ethnography highlighting innovative tactics and organisational structures implemented to frontally tackle power dynamics. Relating this to relevant literature such as prefigurative politics and liberatory praxis (Freire, 1970), we contribute to a discourse on how and by which means social movement organisations and actors deconstruct privilege/ power as a precondition and ongoing project of collective power. Tuck and Yang’s (2012) work on “decolonisation is not a metaphor” reminds that generally anti-oppression politics is fundamentally about praxis to transform the existing order. Sadly, this is often neglected where more focus is placed on visible collective power events, e.g. consensus decision-making, and less focus is placed on how underlying ideologies and identities need to be and are challenged to enable such processes. Therefore as part of a larger transdisciplinary research project, the aim here is to add important insights on topics of: confronting capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, boundary work, critical solidarity whilst also giving insights on the methodology of militant ethnography, where researcher/movement actor are an intersecting position.
Keywords: prefigurative politics, autonomous spaces, ethnography, anti-oppression, capitalism
Johan Gøtzsche-Astrup
(Yale University, Sociology)
The Activist Character in the Social Imaginary
Abstract: Activists are influential political actors in contemporary democracies. I argue that the activist has also attained a central cultural status as a character in the social imaginary. I theorise this character through studies of activist identities, Taylor’s work on imaginaries, MacIntyre on character, and sociological studies of critique. The activist character is a way in which unjust structures of power and the possibilities of critical empowerment are imagined in the wider public. Empirically, I study the construction of this character in twenty bestselling activist memoirs in the United States. Across the memoirs, the structures of power are understood as total, decentred, and internalised by the individual. Critical empowerment is seen to involve a work on the self that taps into a disruptive source of power outside these structures. While this construction of the activist is shared in the memoirs, it is also developed through distinct traditions of democratic critique. Seeing the activist as a character provides an empirically grounded way of reflecting on the role of democratic critique and empowerment.
Keywords: Activist, Power, Critique, Character, Social Imaginary
Marco Perolini
(Goldsmiths College)
State-oriented or autonomous? False dichotomies in migrant activism
Abstract: The relationship between migrant activism and the state is a fraught one. On the one hand, these activists seek to chip away at state sovereignty by, for example, challenging policies that result in pushing back migrants without allowing them to claim asylum, or in deporting people who are undocumented or have been denied asylum. On the other hand, they also demand rights from the state, especially when they organize or participate in protests that target state authorities.

This paper argues that the interface between autonomous forms of mobilisation, through which migrants weave new social relations, and visible collective action such as protests, enabling migrants to make demands to the state, has been overlooked in the scholarships of migrant resistance, critical citizenship, and critical migration.

By focusing on the grassroots mobilisation against border regimes in Berlin, I contend that migrant and pro-migrant protests are closely connected with an increased awareness of the mechanisms of oppression embedded in border regimes and the establishment of new social relations that take shape in autonomous forms of mobilisation.

Analysing the interface between these different layers or poles of mobilisation is crucial to overcome the dichotomic understanding of migrant activism as either autonomous from the state, associated with radical politics challenging borders and the state as an institution, or state-oriented, and thus essentially reformist.

I argue that this analysis enables us to bring together theoretical perspectives that explain different, albeit interconnected aspects of migrant organizing; these include the literature on the autonomy of migration, acts of citizenship, and social movements

Keywords: migrant activism, state, no-border, autonomy, reformism
15:00 – 15:15 Comfort Break

Refreshments available in the HBS foyer.

Environmental politics and the cost of living crisis: politicising the ordinary?

Supported by the Sustainable Consumption Institute

Over the past few years, environmental protests in Northern Europe have been increasingly tied to struggles around the high cost of living. In France, this was exemplified by the slogan “end of the world, end of the month, same fight” (Gaborit and Gremion 2019) aiming to bridge ecological concerns with the claims for fairer energy prices made by the yellow vests. In the UK, political movements against the rise of energy bills have recently brought together climate activists, trade unionists and organisations fighting fuel poverty. This shift in the framing of environmental issues puts the ordinary back at the centre of collective action, by politicising everyday consumption, debt and domestic life. These inequalities also exist transnationally: lifestyles in the global North have been described as an ‘imperial mode of living’ (Brand and Wissen 2021) that continues to perpetuate geopolitical relationships of economic and cultural domination, and the rise of particular classed forms of environmentalism appear to be transnational, leading to new, intensified and intersectional forms of distinction and exclusion (Anantharaman 2018).

This panel intends to reflect on the politicisation of everyday life at the crossroad of environmental concerns and social concerns. How is the cost of living crisis reaffirming that ‘the personal is political’? Can we identify emerging forms of ‘working class environmentalism’ (Barca and Leonardi 2018) rooted in the domestic sphere? What tensions exist between everyday social reproduction and environmental politics? How ‘latent’ and how ‘visible’ are the politics of everyday life, and to what extent do social movements perpetuate the invisible labour of certain practices, forms of work and grievance? How effective are forms of political action that take place out of sight and off the streets? How do our imaginaries of everyday life and ordinary consumption shape political prospects for change?


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Dan Silver is a lecturer at the University of Manchester in the Department of Politics. Dan works using participatory methodologies with community organisations to collaborate and produce knowledge to inform practice and advance social justice. Prior to his PhD, Dan worked for many years in the voluntary sector organising networks to inform change to practice and policy.
Dan will be speaking about his collaborations with community organisations to recognise the radical potential of everyday politics, to develop new ways to effectively document social change, and through thinking about how to elevate the conceptual contribution of social action. Dan will explain his recent work with Rekindle School, an innovative new supplementary school in Manchester. Through recent collaboration with Rekindle, they have produced an action research framework that engages with histories of Black activism and situates the work of Rekindle in care, social justice, and hope.

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Manisha Anantharaman is an Associate Professor of Justice Community and Leadership at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is a multi-disciplinary scholar who applies participatory and ethnographic methodologies to study how economic and political ideologies, socio-cultural identities, and power relations impact how “environmentalism” and “sustainability” are conceptualized and enacted at multiple scales. Her forthcoming book “Recycling Class” (MIT Press, 2023), examines environmental mobilizations around Bengaluru, India’s garbage crises as lens into the relational class, gender and caste politics of urban sustainability.
In this panel, I want to reflect on two distinct but related topics: First, what are the aesthetic politics of environmentalism and sustainability, and how does this contour who participates in “everyday environmentalism” and in what ways? Second, what does a focus on socio-material and metabolic relations reveal about the potential for and limitations of cross-class movements that effectively link environmental and social concerns? To illustrate these points, I will draw upon research and community engagement experiences in Indian cities, highlighting how class, race, and gender inequalities are intertwined with and restrict efforts to address environmental and social challenges. Additionally, I will delve into the concept of commoning and shared provisioning as forms of “everyday activism.” These practices can arise from economic constraints resulting from the rising cost of living and persistent poverty, as well as from ethical obligations and environmental concerns. I will discuss how commoning and shared provisioning have the potential to unite diverse environmental and social concerns and constituencies.

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Kate Bradley works in housing law in her day job, and is a housing activist with Greater Manchester Tenants Union. She has recently organised with the group Don’t Pay, a grassroots campaign group opposing the rise in energy bills. She will be discussing campaigns against the cost of living and what they tell us about strategy and tactics in social movements, including the ways those groups have to reckon with the environmental crisis in their everyday organizing.

Tuesday 13th June, 2023

09:00 – 10:30 Session 3
Panel 3A
Chair: Simin Fadaee

Location: G6
Jade Saab
(University of Glasgow)
Rethinking the revolutionary process
Abstract: The domination of “refolutions”, “negotiated”, “self-limiting”, or “electoral” revolutions over the past three decades has resulted in a shift from looking at revolutions as events to regarding them as processes. Researchers encouraging this perspective either utilise Goldstone’s three stage process of revolution or Tilly’s more relational distinction between revolutionary situations and revolutionary outcomes. However, these approaches continue to suffer critical weaknesses by poorly accounting for the plurality found within revolutions, unclearly explaining the relationship between social movements and revolutions, and the role of ideology in revolutionary processes. This paper builds on these two previous approaches to present a novel four-stage process of revolution that overcomes these barriers.

The paper first utilizes social movements theories to highlight how the same groups and organisations participating in social movements reappear in revolutionary processes. This side steps simplified classifications of different movements actors as “masses” or “political elites” and reaffirms that fact that most revolutions find their origins in movements for reform, not fundamental change.

The paper then argues that attempts to include the emergence of new revolutionary subjectivities within Tilly’s definition of a revolutionary situation points to the necessity for a new stage of revolution, a revolutionary window. This stage accounts for the ideologies of groups and organisations that contest current power holders without seeking to to replace them.

Finally, the paper improves on Tilly’s conception of a revolutionary situation by accounting for movements that seek autonomy as opposed to capturing state power. This escapes the need to classify participants as belonging to one of the two revolutionary or counter-revolutionary camps. Furthermore, it highlights the dynamism of revolutions and how, in the context of contemporary revolutions, revolutionary situations are often advanced by dominant groups such as the army or established political parties.

Keywords: Arab spring, ideology, revolution, social movements
Jack McGinn
Revolution and its Dislocations: Syria’s 2011 Moment as Conceived by its Creators
Abstract: The Syrian Revolution was an unusual uprising, even within the region, given its spread from rural periphery to urban centre (the reverse of the norm), its horizontal or ‘leaderless’ characteristics, with few party structures or traditional leadership models, and the way the revolt was coordinated in a local or ‘nodal’ fashion, with many simultaneous episodes of revolt remaining small-scale, distinct, yet connected. Drought, neoliberal reforms and the destruction of a once-thriving agricultural sector provided further dislocations as a spike in unemployment and rural migration to urban shantytowns led to ripe conditions for challenge to the social compromise. Based on semi-structured interviews with revolutionaries in the Syrian diaspora, along with archival research, this paper explores how those who constructed these nodal episodes conceived of their revolutionary activity, and how the dislocated nature of the uprising(s) impacted their conception of revolution itself. Attempting to think within and beyond debates on what constitutes a revolution (Allinson 2019, Bayat 2017), this piece explores how participants’ self-perception, decision-making and ideological heterodoxy amidst revolution’s warping of time and space (Aziz, 2012), in which lay the possibility of forging a new world, created its own mythos or political imaginary – a fragmented and contradictory collection of ideas subsumed under the collective imaginary of the Syrian Revolution. Following Gramsci, Guha’s injunction to examine the ‘neglected dimension of subaltern autonomy in action, consciousness and culture’, and Hartman’s ‘critical fabulation’ to locate traces/absences in the archive, the piece complicates the linear notion of revolutionary moment leading to civil war.
Keywords: Syria, revolution, uprising, horizontal, local, self-organisation
Sohrab Rezvani
(University of Manchester)
Iran’s Uprising: The Crisis of (re)Organization of the Revolutionary Front Toward a Program of Democratic Socialism
Abstract: After the murder of Jina (Mahsa) Amini and new wave of uprising in Iran, one can observe that opposition forces within the Iranian diaspora are competing very hard to develop their organizations and extend their influence among international political societies. While the right-wing Bar-andaaz (overthrower) oppositions only aim to infiltrate the political system of Iran, take over the seats of power and continue the neo-liberal policies, the left-wing Enghelabi (revolutionary) oppositions seek to change political, economic and social systems of Iran.
However, the Iranian revolutionary front is experiencing very deep crisis of organization which restricted it from becoming a significant political force. In this presentation, in addition to a brief description of political map of the opposition and their current coalitions, I would try to provide a critique of Iranian revolutionary front. From the point of organizational form, the long years of sectarian attitudes toward building organizations has made it impossible to build a strong coalition and long-term collaborative projects. From the point of political/social program, lack of concrete and inclusive sets of demands and agendas toward Democratic Socialism (which the common sense of Iranians is searching for) has isolated the discourse of Marxists, Socialists and, in general, the Left, from the political discourses that are dominant among active people in the uprising.
I hope that this presentation would bring about more discussion around the question of crisis of organization of revolutionary fronts on the international level, which Iran is simply part of it.
Keywords: revolutionary front, crisis of organization, Jina uprising, Democratic Socialism
Panel 3B
Chair: Josephine Becker

Location: G7
Laurence Davis
(University College Cork, Ireland)
Grounded utopianism and anarcho-indigenous eco-politics
Abstract: In this AFPP paper I will elucidate the concept of ‘grounded utopias’ as a conceptual tool intended to facilitate radically transformative political imagination in a time of ecological collapse. My chief argument is that utopian imagination, long derided as either hopelessly impractical or dangerously idealistic, can contribute meaningfully to much wider processes of urgently necessary ecological and social regeneration. However, it can do so only if it first comes to grips with utopia’s own complicity with modern conceptions of progress and perfectibility that have legitimized settler colonialism, the genocide of Indigenous peoples, the violent subordination of women and racial and sexual ‘others’, ecocide, and a ‘grow or die’ form of civilization that is now threatening the very existence of all life on the planet. In my remarks I will critically analyze (1) ‘transcendent’ forms of utopian thought and imagination that have historically inspired and helped to maintain interlinked systems of domination ranging from capitalism to industrialism, colonialism, patriarchy, and megatechnics; and (2) ‘futures thinking’ of the sort that has guided and informed a range of contemporary academic research projects. By way of a radical and transformative constructive alternative, I will draw on a range of literary (William Morris, Ursula K. Le Guin, Starhawk) and social movement (Zapatistas in Mexico, Rojava Revolution in northern Syria) case studies, as well as philosophical reflection by relatively neglected German/Austrian-Jewish anarchist and socialist revolutionary romantic thinkers (Gustav Landauer, Martin Buber), to sketch the contours of and argue for a terrestrial ecotopianism that can help humanity build beyond the Necrocene.
Keywords: Utopias, eco-politics, anarchism, Zapatistas, Le Guin, Landauer
Lauren Langman
(Loyola University of Chicago, Sociology)
Moving Toward Utopia
Abstract: The Enlightenment emerged when the rising Italian bourgeoisie needed a new collective identity apart from the peasants or aristocrats. With the discovery of the Greco-Roman texts, they attempted to resurrect lost arts, culture and sciences. The early discussions of democracy suggested an alternative basis for political power. Influenced by the humanism of Erasmus, More (1516) imagined a society, Utopia that was radically free, democratic equal and fulfilling for all. His vision would influence Rousseau and later Hegel & Marx, whose dialectical theories of history, offered many suggestions as about social movements from reactionary Bonapartism to the progressive Paris Commune toward a progressive/utopian future.

More recently, Fromm envisioned a “sane society,” Marcuse saw the “great refusals” of the 60s preludes for a postcapitalist “new sensibility.” For Habermas crises of legitimacy (economic, political, cultural) migrated from the system to the “life worlds” of identity, motivation, and emotion. Recent history has suggested a telos of progress, based in part and new expressions of collective identity , underpinned by underlying democratic versus authoritarian characteristics, that might be seen as the switchman on the tracks of history. Progressives seek identities based on freedom, self-fulfillment, solidarity, sharing, caring and harmony with Nature. But today, given the adversities of neoliberalism, precarity, inequality and in turn fear and anxiety, the more recent progressive movements, have challenged essentialist, hierarchical identities and in turn fostered widespread reactionary movements that would reverse social change what might be considered backlash. However, it should be noted, the reaction to the widespread authoritarian backlashes so evident today, prompt the younger generations, facing both economic distress as well as distaste and aversion to authoritarian values/identities progressive values are leading the way to mobilize for the various identities and values that stressed creativity over conformity, solidarity over atomism, self and collective fulfillment over authoritarianism, e.g. universal dignity.

Keywords: Utopia, Dialectics,, legitimation crises, social movements,
Aylwyn Walsh
(University of Leeds)
Worldmaking: Performing resistance at South Africa’s State of the Nation Address
Abstract: It’s February 2022 and Cape Town cultural worker Qondiswa James takes a plinth in voluminous black clothes and a veil. It is a long, mourning ritual, silent and slow-moving. She situates herself for the durational performance outside City Hall where South African president Cyril Ramaphosa (leader of the African National Congress) is delivering the 2022 State of the Nation Address – a crucial moment to consider the impacts of COVID, in the wake of economic collapse.

Inside, the main focus in Ramaphosa’s speech is on what the government plans to do about 35% unemployment and the roughly ¼ of the population that had signed up for emergency stipends of just R350 a month (about £17). In 2021 there had been riots and fatal social unrest, with 345 people killed when this pittance of a grant was due to be cut. They were known as the ‘Zuma Riots’ (after the former president Jacob Zuma refused to testify in the Zondo Commission, and was imprisoned). Subsequently, Ramaphosa’s expert panel reported that civil unrest was not isolated to factions of Zuma supporters, but reflected the entrenched inequalities of decades of organised forgetting.

Developing Olùfémi O. Táíwò’s recent work on reparations (2021) and elite capture (2022), this paper considers resistant performances in the streets as evidence not of claims to reparations, but redress. Redress is what Táíwò describes as beyond ‘relationship repair’ (reconciliatory approach) (2021, 124), towards ‘worldmaking’ (constructive approach). By setting up alternative visions of what just society would look like, James manifests a model of justice – holding the state accountable for its failures, recruiting wider public as witnesses to harms of ‘state capture’ and organised forgetting that continues to fail the poorest in South Africa. Thus the paper addresses the limitations of post-apartheid narratives of repair, and the role of arts activism in resistance.

Keywords: performance protest, site specific, performativity of resistance, arts activism, repair
Jane Gordon
(University of Connecticut)
Using Theatre of the Oppressed to Practice the Enacting of Anti-racist Norms: A Case Study from UCONN Hartford
Abstract: In spring 2022, a collection of faculty and staff organized an inaugural Antiracism, Education, and Community conference at the University of Connecticut (henceforth UCONN) Hartford campus. At its center was a theater activity authored and orchestrated by the HartBeat Ensemble. Drawing on the findings in the 2020 UCONN Racial Microaggressions Survey, they created a short play. In it, an overwhelmed untenured white female professor of political science interacts dismissively with her students. When trying to squeeze participation from an unyielding group, she singles out the one student wearing a head-scarf, asking if she really has nothing to contribute to a discussion of the Taliban. In desperation, the professor wrongly attributes an excellent paper on that theme to the Muslim-American student when the paper was actually authored by the Muslim-American student’s Afro-Francophone friend. The Muslim-American and Black students, at the urging of a third, Latino student, confront the professor about her mistake, which leads the professor to try to make things right in ways that only worsen the situation. The overall plot is mediated by interactions with an older white female guidance counselor and a young Latino professor and punctuated by the Ensemble’s “Jokers” reading excerpts from the 2020 Survey.
The play was then performed again, but audience members were asked to yell “stop” at any point when they wanted to interrupt the unfolding story. While audience members could tell the actors to say different words, they were urged to come on stage themselves to try out a different course of action. In each instance, the audience and actors discussed the plausibility, preferability, and viability of the recommended changes, which produced very fruitful disagreements about what could fairly be expected of students and the professors and staff hired to serve them. The Chief Diversity Officer of UCONN reflected, as the session closed, that he was considering including a theatrical workshop of this kind in the Fall 2022 new student orientation. Faculty present recommended that the same for orientating and training new and existing faculty.
Drawing as the workshop did on the Theatre of the Oppressed or Forum Theater techniques of the late Brazilian theater activist and popular educator Augusto Boal, it offered a brief, crystallized portrait of a familiar constellation of problems. Specifically, of how overwork in the neoliberal university is used as an excuse to rationalize educational practices that reenforce racist and xenophobic expectations about who rightfully belongs in spaces of higher education. However, in response, diversly implicated audience members could together practice enacting alternatives, concretely crafting new, anti-racist norms.
The chapter that follows draws on this case study and interviews with one of the HartBeat jokers, the workshop’s playwright, staff that chose to and ultimately invited the Ensemble, UCONN’s Chief Diversity Officer, and writing of and about Augusto Boal to explore how the theatrical space created room to practice specific instances and dimensions of transformation.
While focused on changing how belonging is understood and conveyed in the classroom, the implications reach beyond it to other interactions in which radical inequality can be uncritically reproduced or interrupted and remade. My claim is that, as with this UCONN Hartford instance, where theoretical conversations about antiracist education and activism were indispensably buttressed by practicing modes of engagement necessary to developing the social fabric of antiracist relations, that Theater of the Oppressed and Forum Theater also offer much to contemporary progressive political organizing as it deliberately responds to failures of more traditional conceptions of organization and leadership.
Keywords: forum theater, anti-racist education, contemporary progressive political organizing, horizontal and decentralized leadership and organization
Panel 3C
Chair: Matthijs Gardenier

Location: G32
Tom Rowe, Meghann Ormond
(Wageningen University and Research )
Holding space for climate justice? Urgency and ‘Regenerative Cultures’ in Extinction Rebellion Netherlands
Abstract: This article explores tensions between urgency and climate justice in a climate activist movement context through the case study of Regenerative Cultures in Extinction Rebellion Netherlands. We argue that urgency obstructs climate justice through encouraging ‘whatever-it-takes’ mentalities that sideline justice concerns in the pursuit of action, and through propelling activist burnout, which causes climate justice movements to falter over time. We situate Regenerative Cultures as a tool used by Extinction Rebellion Netherlands to negotiate these obstructions to climate justice posed by urgency. Regenerative Cultures comprises an attempt by Extinction Rebellion Netherlands to ‘hold space’, away from the urgency which pervades the movement, in order to afford activists the time to experiment with modes of inner transformation. The techniques used by activists to ‘hold space’ for these transformations constitute a form of utopia building. In these utopian spaces, activists learn to acknowledge and manage feelings of urgency, thereby constituting a form of emotional and affective inner transformation. However, the utopian spaces of Regenerative Cultures are isolated from the rest of the movement. As a disconnected utopian enclave, the political potential of ‘Regenerative Cultures’ as a prefigurative vehicle for social change is blunted. This case study is testament to the difficulties involved in carving out spaces to practice prefigurative forms of politics in a context of planetary emergency, while simultaneously outlining the necessity of such spaces for cultivating the inner changes required to enable and sustain projects of climate justice.
Keywords: Climate change, justice, environmental activism, global North, inner transformation, activist wellbeing
Dániel Mikecz, Márton Gerő
(Centre for Social Sciences, Budapest)
Reconsidering assertive political culture: anti-vaccination movements and the distrust in political institutions in Hungary
Abstract: As Dalton and Welzel noted in their seminal work ‘The Civic Culture Transformed’, instead of showing allegiance towards political institutions, a democratic political culture includes citizens, who are distrustful towards electoral politics and tend to represent their own interest with the help of various forms of political participation. As assertive political culture entails challenging elites, it leads to more accountability of governments. According to our paper’s hypothesis, the assertive political culture, the rejection of top-down initiatives and the distrust in institutions can be identified among the proponents of anti-vaccination movements.

The relationship between populism, conspiracy theories and vaccine uncertainty have been already confirmed. It seems clear that there is a strong link between susceptibility to populism, conspiracy theories and vaccine aversion (Goldberg & Richey, 2020). Stecula and Pickup (2021) found a strong association between two types of populist attitudes, anti-vaccine and distrust of experts, and belief in conspiracy theories about the coronavirus in a sample from the United States. However, these factors are also part of a more general trend: anti-expert and distrust of state institutions is a general phenomenon that underpins populist discourse and plagues modern societies (Brubaker, 2021).

Our paper argues that anti-vaccination and anti-expert attitudes can be related to the general tendency of growing assertive attitudes, i.e. challenging elites and distrust vis-á-vis political institutions. Consequently assertive political culture promotes not exclusively pro-democratic, progressive social movements and political participation.

The paper’s arguments will be tested with a representative survey of 1000 respondents and the framing analysis of anti-vaccination movements in Hungary. The data was collected in November 2022.

Keywords: assertive political culture, anti-vaccination movements, COVID, populism, Hungary
Gabriel Siles-Brügge, Michael Strange, Tim Henrichsen
(University of Warwick)
Submerged mobilisation and path-dependent mutuality: Rethinking social movement activism via mycorrhizal networks
Abstract: We develop a novel perspective on transnational social movements. Beyond a focus on cycles of mobilisation politics, marked by peaks and troughs, we are interested in how non-visible, ‘submerged’ (Melucci 1985) activities shape social movements. We turn to discussions from forest ecology popularised in Wohlleben’s book The Hidden Life of Trees (2016), drawing inspiration from the subterranean networks of mycorrhizal fungi that are in a symbiotic relationship with tree roots, allowing them to exchange nutrients and communication. In contrast to the widely used ‘rhizome’ metaphor, mycorrhizal networks are not just characterised by non-hierarchical connectivity, but are organised around so-called ‘mother tree’ hubs. This points to the role of power and path dependence in structuring social movement relations. While networks can be a source of strength for subsequent mobilisation, providing the resources and collective identities on which groups draw, the existing mycorrhizal mycelium of social movement connections can also be limiting and exclusionary. In addition, mycorrhizal networks are not just characterised as relations between actors but also the infrastructure of connections ‘growing’ between political demands over time that structure mobilisation. We illustrate the utility of the metaphor by using social network analysis to map the actors and issue structure of the submerged Seattle-to-Brussels (S2B) network across both a period of peak mobilisation (2013-17) and subsequent (2017-21) trough. We find support for our theoretical claim: while the central role of S2B member organisations is important, common demands are even more important to providing the European alter-globalisation network’s mycorrhizal infrastructure. The analysis also highlights often noted but hard to show exclusions such as the marginalisation of ‘gender’ within trade-focused social movement networks, providing a new way to engage with an old discussion in social movement politics.
Keywords: mycorrhizal, submerged mobilisation, alter-globalisation, social network analysis, path-dependence
Shanshan Ouyang
(Doctoral Program of Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Ritsumeikan University/Research Fellow for young Scientists (DC) of JSPS)
Accessing Rainbow Pride/Parade: The Inclusion and Exclusion of LGBTQ+ people with disabilities in LGBT Movements in Japan
Abstract: This research investigates what factors influence LGBTQ+ people with disabilities to participate in LGBT movements in Japan. Previous studies have revealed multiple discrimination against LGBTQ+ people with disabilities have mostly been studied in the West. However, their participation in social movements is still under-discussed, and almost no studies have been conducted. In fact, some disabled queer activists claim that “LGBTQ members with disabilities are often overlooked during Pride Month”, and they also have noted that “the disabled community is excluded from queer spaces in various ways.”
In Japan, as LGBTQ pride parades (which are usually called Rainbow Pride/Parade) represent the most visible and powerful initiative movements for LGBTQ+ people, “diversity and inclusion” has often been a key concept. Pride Parades appears to be an effective space to agenda the intersection of queerness and disability.
This research used my fieldwork figures on rainbow pride/parades that took place in different places of Japan from 2022 to 2023, covering 17 locations. Drawing on interview data from organizers and disabled queer activists/participants, this paper will explore the inclusion and exclusion of people with disabilities in LGBT movements in Japan. It was found that LGBTQ people with disabilities face physical and emotional barriers to accessing the pride parade. Accessibility can be improved if there are any disabled queer participated it. However, organizers cannot complete it due to the economy and lack of volunteers. This clearly shows that it is essential to make effective use of welfare service and to create a space for dialogue between organizers and disabled participants.
Keywords: Pride Parade, LGBTQ+ people with disability, accessibility, Japan.
James Ozden & Markus Ostarek, Brent Simpson
The Radical Flank Effect of Just Stop Oil
Abstract: Social movements have the power to instigate large-scale social change. Recently, activist groups using disruptive, provocative tactics have emerged in several countries. By blockading motorways, throwing soup at paintings, and gluing themselves to airport runways, they have attracted mass media attention. The consequences of such radical tactics for the wider movement are hotly debated: Do they make the public more or less supportive of the aims of the wider movement? And to what extent are these tactics helpful versus harmful?

We conducted nationally representative surveys before and after a week-long disruptive campaign by Just Stop Oil to block London’s M25 motorway. 1,415 members of the public were asked about their support for and identification with a moderate climate organisation (Friends of the Earth) and about their broader support for climate policies. The results show that people with higher overall awareness of Just Stop Oil tended to identify with and support Friends of the Earth more. Changes in people’s awareness of Just Stop Oil after vs. before the M25 protests predicted changes in their identification with and support for Friends of the Earth. That is, we find longitudinal evidence for a positive radical flank effect: the activities of a radical flank increase support for the more moderate faction of the movement. Regarding support for broader climate policies, the results pointed towards polarisation: Those least supportive of progressive climate policies and groups to begin with were negatively affected by Just Stop Oil’s protests, whereas those who were initially more favourable showed a slight positive effect or no change.

Keywords: radical flank effect, protest, climate
10:30 – 10:45 Comfort Break

Refreshments available in the HBS foyer.
10:45 – 12:15 Session 4
Panel 4A
Chair: John Krinsky

Location: G6
Simin Fadaee
(University of Manchester )
Rethinking Marxism’s global relevance
Abstract: Marxism became the most prominent school of thought in inspiring revolutionary ideas throughout the global South, particularly in the second half of the twentieth century when nations were in search of alternatives to advances of imperialist and colonial forces. It created radical political imaginaries which rejected capitalism while emphasising an indigenous ideological heritage, values and traditions. This paper criticises accusations of Eurocentrism against Marx(ism) and discusses the problems with the decolonial turn that disconnects decolonisation from Marxism. It advances two main arguments: First that a close examination of the history of anti-colonial and anti-imperial struggles reveals that Marxism and anti-colonial thought and practice are inseparable and therefore, the re-joining of Marxism and decolonisation debates is imperative. Second, it argues that it is Eurocentric to claim that Marxism is Eurocentric, because this entails dismissing the cornerstone of some of the most transformative movements and revolutionary projects of recent human history.
Keywords: Marxism, decolonisation, capitalism, revolution, global South
Josh Bunting
(University of Manchester)
Social Movements and Social Change: Towards a Processual Social Movement Theory
Abstract: In order to understand social movements as instruments of social change, they need to be understood as processes. The world of social movements is not one of stasis, it is a dynamic world, full of motion and drastic shifts.
This article argues that often our approach to social movements is synchronic when it should be diachronic, and that we regularly study movements as if they are intervening in a structure that is not also in motion. When we do talk about change, we often talk about it in terms of a crisis or ruptural event, a moment when social norms are suspended and an abnormal fluidity replaces the social structure for a period of time (Bourdieu, 1984; Pagis, 2019).
Following EP Thompson, social movement theory needs ‘concepts appropriate to the investigation of process’ (Thompson, 1978, p.45). Concepts that can account for the dynamic nature of society and the shifting sands that the foundations of social phenomena are rooted in. Thompson himself uses an experiential approach explains social movements, social actors and society itself in a moving relationship that shapes the development of all three elements. (Thompson, 1963; Wood, 1995). This approach can be further enhanced by the inclusion of Paulo Freire’s theory of praxis, allowing an interpretation of activism as a pedagogical process (1970).
However, it is arguable that the static approach to the study of society emanates from the deep history of Western Philosophy, focussed as it is on substance at the expense of accident (Asouzu, 2011). Therefore, this article argues that in order to formulate processual approaches to the study of social movements, scholars should also look to African Philosophy for approaches with a more dynamic ontology that are more useful for studying processes such as Ubuntu (Ramose, 1995) and Ibuanyidanda (Asouzu, 2011).
Keywords: Process, Social Change, Praxis, Historical Sociology
Jacob Stringer
(Queen Mary University of London)
Who can live the housing struggle? Gramsci’s common sense expanded through Bourdieu
Abstract: Gramsci’s idea of ‘common sense’ is often treated as operating simply through discourse, particularly in Laclau and Mouffe’s post-Marxian formulation of articulation. But this may not be the most useful way for social movements to think about it. London Renter’s Union is discussed as a case study of a social movement organisation trying to articulate across class and race lines as it does radical community organising in London. An ethnographic study of the organisation shows that, despite a commitment to organising across class and race, London Renters Union still finds difficulty in attracting a diverse membership. Elements of how it organises don’t always seem to fit with the desire expressed by the union to be ‘led by the most affected renters’. The routine of meetings and planning sessions across a large geographic area exists within a ‘middle class’ milieu, advantaging those with higher education, professional jobs and more time. It is argued that it is not a new discursive common sense that can solve this. Rather, the problem lies in the organisation trying to induct its new members into ‘ways of being’ that are too far from their habitual ways of being and the places where they feel comfortable. Bourdieu’s idea of ‘habitus’ will be introduced to help explain why different people feel psychologically or physically comfortable in different environments and places, in the process expanding Gramsci’s idea of ‘common sense’ to make it more material and embodied. This re-conceptualisation of common sense/good sense to include habitus enables a discussion of whether and how radical community organising can feel ‘liveable’ from multiple class positions. It is proposed that it could be of benefit to London Renters Union and other social movement organisations to imagine themselves as needing to articulate with habitus, or common sense ‘ways of being’.
Keywords: Gramsci, Bourdieu, tenants union, common sense, class, articulation
Geoffrey Pleyers
(FNRS UCLouvain)
For a global sociology of social movements beyond methodological globalism and extractivism
Abstract: The rising influence of actors and worldviews from the Global South in contemporary movements calls for renewed approach, method and epistemology in social movement studies. It raises practical, theoretical, methodological and epistemological challenges. How to study global movements without ceding to the pitfalls of methodological globalism and epistemic extractivism? How to conciliate the diversity of struggles with the global dimensions of a movement? This reflexive paper draws on the author’s previous research on global movements since 1999 to discuss these challenges and propose an approach built on four pillars: multi-site research, transnational analytical tools, dialogues with local actors and researchers, and an ethic oriented towards intercultural dialogues. Under these premises, global sociology becomes a collective project that combines researchers’ and actors’ reflexivities in a common quest for a better understanding of our world and the actors who seek to transform it.
Keywords: Global movements, epistemology, methodology, research ethic, intercultural dialogue, global sociology
Panel 4B
Chair: Laurence Davis

Location: G7
Andre Sales
(Puc/SP – York University)
Prefigurative Activism in Brazil: changing oneself to recast social norms
Abstract: Over the last twenty years, there has been growing interest among social movement scholars concerning the role of prefiguration. As a political orientation, prefiguration implies embedding the values people champion in their protestor’s quotidian life. Therefore, prefigurative activists questing for equality stress collaboration, solidarity, personal growth, and intragroup power dynamics as crucial dimensions of this mode of transforming social norms. However, concepts and mechanisms popular in the sociological literature fail to account for the psychological aspects mobilized by prefigurative praxes. At the same time, the research on the psychology of protest has primarily focused on causes for people’s engagement in protests (grievances, identification, emotions) and not on the potential for self-transformation that participating in endeavors carries. This paper proposes a psychopolitical definition of prefigurative activism. Drawing upon doctoral research which studied protest culture among Brazillian youth between 2015 and 2016, it became clear that these protesters acknowledged and embraced the inextricable connection between personal and political aspects of prefigurative activism, blurring the lines between expressive and programmatic actions. I propose we understand prefigurative activism as a collaborative political endeavor in which activists strategically transform their relationships with themselves, their peers, adversaries, and the political, social, and natural environments.
Keywords: Prefiguratio, Political Psychology, Protests
Giuseppe Feola
(Utrecht University)
Schismogenesis and prefiguration in grassroots transformative spaces
Abstract: The aim of this paper is to advance the theorization of prefigurative grassroots initiatives (e.g., community supported agriculture, autonomous peasant/food collectives) as spaces of sustainability transformation beyond capitalism. The paper’s main contentions are that (i) prefigurative grassroots initiatives involve conscious self-determination by differentiation through a range of socio-cognitive and socio-political processes leading to what I call ‘unmaking’ of capitalist structures and relations, and that (ii) such processes of unmaking are generative and possibly preconditional to the prefiguration of grassroots alternatives to capitalism. In other words, I posit that grassroots sustainability transformation involves a ‘negative’, but generative moment that co-constitutes and is entangled with the hopeful creation of alternatives to capitalism, which is more important for prefiguration than theorized to date. My argument builds on the notion of schismogenesis and revisits it in the light of literature on prefiguration, social movements, refusal and autonomous geographies. The notion of schismogenesis was originally developed by G. Bateson (1987) and more recently employed by D. Graeber and D. Wengrow in their explanation of the formation of autonomous, egalitarian societies of the past (Graeber, 2013; Graeber and Wengrow, 2018; Wengrow and Graeber, 2018). Schismogenesis identifies cultural differentiation – as a self-conscious political project – as the social force for the genesis of new sociotechnical, socioeconomic and socioecological formations. In other words, prefigurative grassroots initiatives, as instances of emerging postcapitalist formations, generate social change not only through their ability to socially innovate, construct and institutionalize alternatives, but by disabling, dynamically confronting, and refusing capitalism. The paper condenses a theorization of the generative function of unmaking processes, and of their entanglement with prefigurative creation, in a typology that is critically discussed and illustrated with empirical evidence from European and Latin American agri-food grassroots initiatives.
Keywords: Prefiguration, Grassroots initiatives, Agri-food, Capitalism, Refusal
Ellie Perrin
(University of Luxembourg )
“We’re not going away you know” : Worker cooperatives in Northern Ireland as prefigurative solidarity economies
Abstract: In this paper, I seek to explore the processes at play in real existing alternative economies in the Northern Irish case study. Northern Ireland provides a complex portrait of a divided post-conflict society, one where neoliberal economics are embedded into a fragmented landscape, emulating rather than transcending polarisation between divided communities. While Northern Ireland’s political battleground does not leave much space for alternatives, but it does not mean they do not exist. Indeed, this research testifies of the hopeful politics, the (sometimes) invisible pockets of resistance thriving to build a vision for more egalitarian, democratic and sustainable economies, inhabiting the interstices where the neoliberal peace is resisted and reframed.

The research is based on an engaged, embedded ethnographic approach that blends participant observation and in-depth interviews, rooted in a deep-seated participatory and feminist ethos. This body of work points to the complexities and the messy realities of worker cooperatives, highlighting as much the therapeutic practices they foster, the desire for emancipation they respond to and the anti-capitalist and anti-sectarian politics they are driven by. Both rage and hope cohabit in these alternative economic spaces where new practices are trialled. The paper explores worker cooperatives’ potential to create non-exploitative, ethical and therapeutic work practices, to reintegrate social justice and solidarity into economics and ultimately articulating a new ‘common sense’ for an economic reality beyond neoliberalism and sectarianism.

The assessment made of the worker cooperatives studied here may be a hopeful one. The fact remains that Northern Ireland provides a far from congenial environment for cooperative economies. Instead, the study employs a more compassionate gaze when investigating alternative economies, while also critically assesses the forceful limitations imposed upon them and the institutional attempts at co-option they confront, therefore contributing to academic debates on social and diverse economies.

Keywords: Worker co-operatives, alternative economics, peacebuilding, Northern Ireland
Kyoko Tominaga
(Ritsumeikan University)
Profitable, Commercial, but Prefigurational Convergence Space: The Case of Small Business Engaged by Youth Activists in Japan
Abstract: This research explores how prefigurative politics develop in certain places, but without occupying and squatting tactics. Previous research has stressed that convergence spaces play an important role in prefiguration. However, previous studies of prefiguration mainly focused on social centres, alternative spaces and community housing as convergence spaces. This study investigates small business offices that activists run as a challenge of prefiguration, autonomy and everyday politics. Although business and prefiguration seem to be contradictory, they are essential attempts to consider resource constraints and sustainability in lifestyle movements. This research used interview data from three small business offices run by young activists with experience of organizing social movements in Japan who organized their own business as place-based social movements because of the lack of external donations, people’s sympathy and governmental support. Their businesses are mainly restaurants, real estate companies and transportation services. These young activists do not want to work for existing companies because they resist capitalism and globalism. Thus, they start their own businesses. While they place importance on being financially independent and being able to manage continuously, they also contribute to the community by providing inexpensive food and shelters for poor people. This business-based prefiguration is caused by the low level of donations and lack of support for social movements in Japan, where activists are engaged in creative lifestyle movements. This study demonstrates activists’ efforts to combine commercial activities with social movements and contributes to studies of convergence space and prefiguration politics.
Keywords: Prefiguration, Convergence space, Small business, Lifestyle movement
Ali Taherzadeh
(Cardiff University)
Unity in Diversity: Developing a Social Movement Ecology approach in the UK Agroecology Movement
Abstract: How does (sub)culture play into movement divisions and affect a movement’s reach and impact? Social movement actors often encounter the tension between maintaining and defending radical and prefigurative politics and building bridges to those with different perspectives and positionalities to find common ground and build broad-based movements. Agroecology is a radical and transformative paradigm for sustainable agriculture and food systems. As a social movement it has been most active and researched in Latin American and other Global South contexts. While the UK movement is still relatively young, it is growing quickly and encountering the challenges of building an effective and cohesive enough movement to transform the food system. The PhD research project, Resisting, Learning, Growing, explores these challenges in the social movement praxis of the UK agroecology movement through a blend of participatory action research and activist ethnography.

This paper presents an overview of the key findings of three years of data collection and an ongoing conversation within the movement about how to be most effective at a time of continually emerging crises. The research highlights how prefigurative subcultures operate as both a strength and a weakness in the movement. One the one hand, drawing in young new entrant farmers and activist allies and creating a strong sense of collective identity, whilst on the other hand, alienating parts of the wider farming community and potentially limiting the uptake of agroecological practice. In this presentation, I draw upon the Social Movement Ecology framework of the Ayni Institute and the distinction between ‘home’ and ‘coalition’ spaces made by civil rights activist Bernice Johnson Reagon. I combine these with an understanding of agroecology transformations to explore the value of working strategically in heterogenous movements to enable diverse transformation pathways towards agroecological food systems.

Keywords: prefigurative politics, agrarian movements, coalition, transformation, subculture
Panel 4C
Chair: Johan Gøtzsche-Astrup

Location: G32
Steven Speed
(University of Manchester)
Scottish crofting as an alternative to capitalist agriculture
Abstract: Small-scale farming communities in Scotland engaged in a combination of food sovereignty, agroecology, or land sovereignty are, to some extent, offering an alternative to capitalism. Their strategies have not only made them more resilient to the recent crises of capitalism but have done so by reducing their dependency upon it. During these crises, caused by COVID-19 and Brexit, they were not only more able to sustain themselves when long food supply chains collapsed but also increased their autonomy and sustainability through an increased demand for local food networks. What is more, in certain areas, these strategies have transformed social relations and, at times, revealed unalienated practices such as gift economies.
This research was conducted over a 15 month period and primarily consisted of seasonal interviews with 14 small-scale food producers in Scotland. This paper will examine the manner in which the agricultural practices of these communities offer a glimpse of what an alternative to capitalism might look like. Through an analysis that draws on the work of Erik Olin Wright, David Harvey and John Holloway it will look at strategies that small-scale farmers in Scotland employ and how, in the context of crisis, they have revealed and enabled alternative economic practices.
The research found that the strategies employed by small-scale farming communities in Scotland are transformative in the ways in which they resist and, at times, reverse the reproduction of capitalism through their demand for autonomy and self-subsistence, particularly during crises. Ultimately, these are moments of withdrawal from, and non-participation in, capitalist social relations that are made possible, in the first instance, by access to land. In their entirety they should be thought of as being transformative towards an alternative rather than as an alternative themselves, but they do offer a glimpse of how an alternative might be achieved.
Keywords: Scotland, Crofting, agroecology, food sovereignty, land sovereignty, alternitive to capitalism
Elvira Wepfer
How is agroecological Knowledge passed on? Notes on Resilience, from the Field
Abstract: Agroecology is the application of ecology to agriculture in both theory and practice; it aims to conserve resources and minimize pollution while producing food. It is radical in that it prioritizes regeneration over revenue and social justice over profit, and it is popular in that its practitioners propose practical local solutions to abstract global problems. It thus aims to improve resilience, or the ability to deal with change, in terms of ecological biodiversity, social equity and personal wellbeing. I am currently researching how agroecological knowledge is gained, implemented and passed on, and to do so I compare Greek regenerative grassroots eco-activism with a college for ecological studies in the UK. While the UK’s history of radical land rights activism and progressive ecology has paved a way for alternative education that promotes holistic resilience, Greece’s very different (agro-)history has not invited such a focus. As Greek eco-activists work both online and on the ground to inspire, inform and impart agroecological knowledge, individuals take on a number of roles which complicate their goal to teach and educate. I portray one Greek initiative in the southern Peloponnese whose participants aim to teach theoretical and practical skills in regenerative agriculture, and I identify the challenges arising for those teaching and those learning. I then tackle these challenges through looking at how they arise and are dealt with in a different setting, namely a practical residency at a college in the south of England. In so doing I pursue two aims. Fist, I offer these insights as a solution-focussed analysis to the Greek activists themselves as part of the complex epistemological collaboration that agroecology is. Second, I signpost radical practices for academic and popular education that are being explored in order to create alternative futures of regeneration and resilience.
Keywords: Agroecology, Knowledge, Regeneration, Eco-activism, Resilience, Greece
Nina Djukanovic
(University of Oxford)
Becoming a Sacrifice Zone: The Case of Lithium Mining in Serbia
Abstract: This paper is concerned with the emergence of a new lithium extractivist frontier in Serbia, and the local resistance to such emergence. The Jadar Project was set to become the biggest lithium mine in Europe before it was cancelled in January 2022 following mass protests – an element widely understood as crucial to the so-called green transition. I analyse this case through the frameworks of extractivism and Balkanism to suggest that it needs to be understood within the broader idea of a sacrifice zone in the European semi-periphery. Within this context, Serbia is referred to as being at the “doorsteps of Europe” by the mining company Rio Tinto which at the same time promises to position the country as “the European hub for green energy.” The mine, which does not yet exist but is at the same time very much present, occupies the liminal space of lithium being easily accessible and conveniently located in Europe while at the same time reproducing the extractivist divide between the Global South, where mining takes place and the Global North, where the material is enjoyed. Through ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews, the article explores the multiple forms of attachment and resistance that emerge within the prospective sacrifice zone, as local relationships with the land, history, and memory are resurfacing and remobilised in the struggle against lithium mining.
Keywords: sacrifice zone, extractivism, lithium, green transition, environmental movements
Sofija Stefanović, Jennifer Gabrys & Alan Blackwell
(University of Cambridge)
From critical minerals to critical water narratives: grassroots water sensing in the movement against green extractivism
Abstract: In 2021, Rio Tinto committed $2.4 billion to open the largest lithium mine in Europe in western Serbia. Lithium, critical for many so-called “green” technologies, is surging in interest and investment, but the impacts of its extraction can be devastating to people and nonhuman nature. Described mainly as an unexpected pushback, the anti-mining movement in Serbia is part of increasing environmental mobilisation as the public reckons with the devastating consequences of mining and activists increasingly turn to grassroots tactics to evidence heightened levels of pollution and their effects. Mass mobilization and civil disobedience have derailed the mine’s plans so far but negotiations are far from over.
I describe my experience of engaging with the movement as an organiser and researcher, focusing on a recent multi-day river listening walk and workshops I co-organised, which led to the development of a collaborative research agenda and a pilot community water monitoring effort around Rio Tinto’s (500+) exploratory drills in the Jadar valley. This is the first stage of research that aims to co-design grassroots environmental monitoring processes to produce counter-data to institutionalized science that serves corporate interests.
The movement challenges the dominant idea that resource-intensive ‘green’ technologies are clean and just. Rather, as this movement shows, these technologies are not a just transition away from fossil fuels; instead, environmental sensing reimagines and redesigns knowledge production to address widespread water contamination concerns, offering a humble alternative for the role community technology might play in struggles against green extractivism and sustainable futures. Preliminary results take the form of maps that seek to challenge the hierarchy between data coming from water measurements and embodied experiences of pollution. These serve to facilitate campaign action planning and are a work in progress constructed through interviews, workshops and collective analysis of information generated through the research.
Keywords: lithium, critical minerals, citizen data, participatory action research, environmental justice
Panel 4D
Chair: Lauren Langman

Location: G33
Dimitra Pilichou
(University of Sheffield)
Happiness in Greek eco-communities
Abstract: According to the United Nations, depression ranks first worldwide as “a cause of years lost due to disability” and by 2030 it is projected to be also the leading global burden amongst all diseases. The increasing prevalence of phenomena such as mental health conditions in nations with high GDP reinforces a wave of dissent expressed since the 1970s that criticises economic growth for not being a reliable prosperity indicator. At the same time, the imminent threat of climate change and environmental degradation had led to a growing realisation of the necessity to develop post-consumeristic values and lifestyles that will enable us to combine a high quality of life with measurably reduced resource use. Ecovillages are characterised by this kind of lifestyle and yet little is known about the experiences of happiness and life satisfaction in these spaces. The specific socioeconomic conditions of Greece, not least being the first country in the world to fall from a developed to an emerging market status, make for a fascinating and fertile ground for such an exploration. Through a combination of interviews, focus groups, observations and autoethnography, I have gained an insight into how happiness is understood, experienced and sought by eco-community residents. Elements that set this lifestyle apart are also identified and their effect critically evaluated. Although they have always been niches, on the fringes, ecovillages can now be seen as experimental sites relevant to core global goals. Their well-being potential has numerous things to teach us with several implications for both policy and the wider society.
Keywords: happiness, Greece, eco-communities, lifestyle, sustainable
Brian Callan
(Goldsmiths, University of London)
This Time with Feeling: The political faculties of Hannah Arendt and everyday emotions of the protest cycle.
Abstract: Hannah Arendt was one of the foremost philosophers and scholars of Western authoritarianism and totalitarianism of the 20th century. Her works on the banal and quotidian processes by which a state or society achieves and executes autocracy are still widely read and disseminated today. Despite this, Arendt’s theories of political action have made little impact in the fields of social movement theory. Arendt identified three human political faculties in two of her works, The Human Condition (1958) and The Life of the Mind (1971). In her particular understanding of the terms; thinking, acting and judging respectively allow for the emergence of dissent, enable coordinated action in the public realm and, allow for the understanding of the radical other.

A scholar of her time and tradition, Arendt had little room for the ‘passions’ in her political faculties, whereas now, emotions and ‘moral shock’ are often seen as key aspects in the mobilisation and maintenance of social movements. However, based on an ethnography of Palestinian Solidarity Activism (2012-2015), and particularly of Israeli activists in that movement, this paper argues that, alongside anger and dismay, more mundane, everyday feelings of weirdness, wrongness and love are at play, almost unnoticed in the social and subjective lives in those who become activists. In showing how these three almost unfelt feelings underpin and enable, also respectively, thinking, acting and judging, this paper explores both the subtlety of affect in long term protest movements and the utility of Arendt’s theory in understanding recruitment, mobilisation and long term efficacy in social movement practices.

Keywords: Arendt, Affect, Social Movements, Israel-Palestine
Yushuang Yang
(Graduate School of Sociology, Ritsumeikan University)
How Emotion Cultures Affect Solidarity Building in the Chinese Online Feminist Movement
Abstract: This paper aims to present how differences between emotion cultures in two trends of online feminists prevent the building of broader movement solidarity, by shaping how participants feel toward members and opponents, in collective action and everyday activities. The literature on feminism and emotions has demonstrated that gendered emotions like caring or love foster in-group cohesion, and overcoming fear by bringing out anger helps women confront opponents. However, the emotional aspect embedded in the complex relationship across various movement groups remains underexplored. This paper considers intersectional practices as a key factor in establishing movement solidarity and focuses on three interrelated emotional dimensions that constitute emotion cultures: (1) individual emotions, including reflective emotions like anger toward particular social events; (2) group emotions, including (mis)trust or resentment toward movement partners or opponents; (3) emotions in collective action and everyday activities, such as affective commitments and moral emotions which usually represent participants’ worldviews. In order to elaborate the proposed framework to analyze the conflicts between different emotion cultures, this paper examines two trends of Chinese online feminists on social media, who advocate for women’s empowerment with contrasting emotional work and entailing interactions. Based on the findings, this paper argues that although activists’ emphasis on anger, sometimes even aggressiveness, invoked self-awareness of individual capacity, the downplay of empathy and lack of reflexivity shut out the possibility of allying with other groups who seek women’s empowerment rooted not in personal ability but social justice.
Keywords: emotion cultures, social movements, online feminism, solidarity, intersectional practices
Markus Holdo
(Lund University)
Disrupt With Care! The Radically Different Politics and Ethics Needed to Replace Neoliberalism
Abstract: There are no neutral ways of constructing spaces for participation – the terms of engagement will always reflect the relative powers of the actors involved. While this observation appears frequently in feminist and decolonial social critiques – of movements, academia, democracy, and public spheres – it has more profound consequences for contentious politics and democratic engagement than many scholars currently acknowledge. While recent contributions seek to move beyond classic views that downplayed the importance of people’s differences, their engagement tend to take the form of amendments rather than considering whether a different democratic ideal may prove more productive. Here, I build upon works on the ethics of care to argue for a caring understanding of democracy. This differs from contentious politics, by emphasizing people’s interdependence and need to maintain and deepen human relations. It also differs from deliberative and community ideas of democracy by addressing how public engagement is preconditioned on supportive private circumstances. Recent contributions have embraced critical and intersectional perspectives, but still, both these perspectives encourage us to build shared spaces while being silent about the invisible labor in everyday life on which such spaces must rely. By contrast, ethics-of-care theorists suggest making the caring for such private relations the core substance of democracy, thus bringing everyday-life assumptions into the realm of politics. I aim to take this argument one step further, however, by challenging care theorists to examine one additional silent assumption that a politics of care shares with these two kindred approaches: democracy itself. A coherent theory of “democratic care” needs to consider the labor required to maintain and repair, not only our common world as such but its democratic basis as well.
Keywords: Activism, Citizenship, Critical Theory, Democracy, Gender, Political Economy.
Ji-Eun Ahn
(University of Edinburgh )
“A candlelight itself is sentimental, isn’t it?”: Emotional Dynamics in the Candlelight Vigils in South Korea
Abstract: This paper aims to explore how emotions work in the Candlelight Vigil (Chotbuljipoe), focusing on the emotional dynamics in recruitment, sustaining and outcomes of social movements. Candlelight vigils, outdoor assemblies of people lighting candles after sunset in the way of a peace demonstration or a memorial ceremony, have repeatedly appeared since the early 2000s and have been established as a predominant repertoire of contention in South Korea. Interestingly, the Candlelight Vigil, officially named ‘Candlelight Cultural Festival (Chotbulmunhwaje)’, was a strategic product of the legal restriction on assemblies and demonstrations after sunset, combining two repertoires: (a) a candlelight vigil, a symbol of nonviolence and peace, and (b) a cultural festival permitted even after sunset. Despite considerable emphasis on culture in the Candlelight Vigils, emotions have often been omitted from scholarly discussions, both intentionally and unintentionally. It is because the authorities or the conservative opposition persistently sought to stigmatise this spontaneous and carnivalesque protest as ‘too emotional,’ thereby undermining the symbolic power of the vigils. In parallel, scholars also have constructed and drawn on the false dualism between rationality and emotions (Goodwin et al., 2001). However, interviewees in this study, either willingly or unconsciously, touched on their emotions in the Candlelight Vigils throughout the interviews, echoing Jasper’s assertion: ‘Emotions are there, but we don’t think about them. Their very ubiquity may render them invisible, like the air we breathe’ (Jasper, 1997: 127). Drawing on the in-depth interviews of participants in four cases of the Candlelight Vigils in 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2016/17 respectively, this paper shows how central emotions were to recruit participants, sustain their engagement and produce democratic efficacy in the Candlelight Vigils. In doing so, we will discuss how the nonviolent tactics could be associated with emotions in protest, and furthermore, how symbolism could be channelled and consolidated by emotions in protest.
Keywords: Emotions, Nonviolence, Symbolism, Candlelight vigil, South Korea
12:15 – 13:30 Lunch Break

A buffet lunch will be provided for all delegates in the foyer of Humanities Bridgeford Street.
13:30 – 15:00 Session 5
Panel 5A
Chair: Gemma Edwards

Location: G6
Lisa Lindqvist
(Department of Social and Psychological Studies, Karlstad University)
Networking, circulating, resisting – feminist activists’ application of social media platform features in the Swedish context
Abstract: Commercial social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook constitute resources in the everyday work of feminist activists and organisations. Used to organise street protests, to negotiate solutions and to raise awareness, these platforms are spaces within which feminist alliances and counter-discourses form. As such, their technical features, all aimed at audience retention, as well as their political-economic underpinnings contribute to the emergence of particular forms of political discourses and communities – often highly personalised and based on individual empowerment. Thus, they have power, to some extent, to shape online politics.

This paper centers on the Swedish context, and aims to explore everyday practices that feminist organisations and activists perform on commercial social media platforms. I focus on the way activists understand and relate to social media platform features, such as sorting algorithms and functionality, possibilities of large reach, and opportunities to speak on trending topics.

To do this, I employ digital ethnography to elicit how feminist organisations and activists recognise commercial social media platforms as tools for feminism. I interview, follow, and analyse content from seven Swedish organisations and activists that perform feminism online, and explore how they draw on, and sometimes resist, technical features of social media platforms. Additionally, I look at affectual dimensions of their work, for instance emotionally draining topics, exposure to hate speech and trolling, and the joy of networking. As affect runs through digital spheres in a multitude of ways, often algorithmically enticed, affective dimensions of digital feminism will have an effect on how networks emerge and are sustained.

As a whole, the paper aims to take seriously the power of platforms as shapers of online political activism, while it centers on the ways in which feminists in turn shape and utilise platform features by way of practices, resistances, and demands.

Keywords: social media activism, digital feminism, platform affordances, techno-cultural phenomena, networked affect
Carla Quiroz
(University of Edinburgh)
Chilean feminism and political detachment: How Chilean autonomous feminist organisations are mobilizing without institutions
Abstract: In the Chilean feminist movement, autonomy is at the heart of the capacity of constructing oneself as an actor. However, many of the existing scholars emphasizes the political disintegration of the feminist movement after Pinochet’s dictatorship, highlighting the ways in which Chilean democracy has failed of achieving the feminist demands, facing barriers to translating these demands into political influence over democratic policymaking (Churchryk, 1994; Frohmann and Valdés, 1993), particularly due to the institutional politic structure.

Although, feminist movements have demonstrated the ability to put the rights of women at the forefront of political agenda, many activists consider that participation in institutional politics does not necessarily mean an option for achieving their goals. It does mean that activists are divided between those who perceive institutional politics as the next step and those who view it as corrupt and/or reformist (Offe, 1989). The process of ‘institutionalisation’, for most of them, implies that movements ‘develop internal organisation, become more moderate, adopt a more institutional repertoire of action and integrate into the system of interest representation’ (Della Porta & Diani, 1999, p. 148).

This work is not focused on the struggles around autonomy versus institutional politics, but rather I propose a theoretical discussion about how the autonomous feminists organisations have developed a resistance culture and a viable political project in Chile, considering the suspicion of co-optation, proposing a self-determination political agenda as an expression of freedom and autonomy, where autonomy does not mean abandoning opposition or other forms of contentious action.

Keywords: Autonomy, social movements, feminism, Chile.
Brogan Gallagher
(Maynooth University, Maynooth, Co. Kildare)
How do feminist social movements mobilise in response to acts of violence against women? A comparative analysis.
Abstract: One in three women globally will experience violence in their lifetime: violence against women (VAW) is a multi-layered human rights issue. The Argentinean social movement Ni Una Menos (not one (woman) less) and the Irish social movement, ROSA, are currently engaged in mobilisations seeking radical social transformation, with a strong focus on eliminating VAW and attaining reproductive rights. These contemporary movements signal a type of feminist mobilisation that is ‘beyond’ the classic opposition between Western liberal feminism and Third World feminism.
On pivotal days of protest, social movement actors engage in a process which holds the potential to facilitate social change. This change is dependent on numerous factors which need to be in place for movement demands to be met. The strategies employed by each movement were interrogated with a focus on the interaction between political opportunities, mobilising structures, and framing processes in achieving concrete political outcomes.
The theoretical framework is based in political process theory (McAdam, McCarthy & Zald 1996) as set out by social movement scholars, which facilitates an analysis of how these contemporary feminist social movements mobilised in response to acts of VAW, the femicide of a young woman in Argentina, and the treatment of a rape victim by the judicial system in Ireland. The mobilisations that occurred highlighted the State’s inaction in relation to VAW and influenced legislation and policy changes with varying degrees of success in each national context.
This was achieved through in-depth semi-structured interviews with members of each movement, analysis of social media platforms utilised on the day of protest; and content analysis of national, regional and international policy documentation related to VAW. This research gives insight into the different experiences of social movement actors whose aim is to eradicate VAW in the Global South and Global North.
Keywords: violence against women, Latin America, feminist, social movement, Ireland
David Landy & Aileen O’Carroll
(Trinity College Dublin)
Recomposing non-hierarchical organising: How the Irish Repeal movement used social media as organising tools
Abstract: How do social movements deal with the effects of social media on their organising capacities? Social media has been seen as having a paralysing effect on the decision-making abilities of groups, disintegrating the processes that lead to movements being able to make decisions and act on them. We question this view by using the example of the successful grassroots-based movement to repeal the Irish constitutional ban on abortion (the Repeal movement). We argue that this example shows that non-hierarchical movements are not necessarily thrown into tactical freeze, recurring conflict or loss of messaging control by social media usage, but can channel their use of social media with reference to their ideological concerns. We base our paper on 26 in-depth qualitative interviews with key abortion rights activists, combined with mapping of digital tools used by the organisations. The paper focuses on the various factors that enabled the grassroots wing of the Repeal movement to use social media in a strategic way, so it did not overwhelm how they organised. We argue that these factors operate both on a group and individual level and include organisational ideology, organisational capacity and individual habitus. To that end we examine both the ideological basis of non-hierarchical organising in the Repeal movement as well as its practical implementation in order to understand how contemporary non-hierarchical movements can successfully manage social media.
Keywords: Repeal, non-hierarchical organising, social media, affordances, cognitive praxis, feminism
Panel 5B
Chair: Jane Gordon

Location: G7
Jacob Stringer
(Queen Mary University of London)
Making proposals in militant research: a research output as risk-taking as social movements
Abstract: Militant research is an orientation more than a method, and the strength of alignment with social movements means it is oriented towards the success of alter-systemic movements, in the differing forms that can take. As Colectivo Situaciones point out, the researcher must steer away from objectifying their movement, but must also avoid the trap of idealising it if Routledge’s ‘third space’ of critical engagement is to be possible. With those corollaries met the critique in militant research can take a different form to positivist social science research. Where the latter points out inconsistencies and failure or errors, militant research also has the option of proposing new ways forward for the movement. An example is provided from the author’s work with London Renters Union. Offering proposals to the movement is possible precisely because the alignment of the researcher is not with ‘objectivity’ but with movement success, and their insider knowledge and ‘loving’ relationship with the movement allows them to propose realistic and achievable paths forwards. The risks of abuse of power must be recognised, as in all research, but are mitigated by the researcher’s need to maintain positive relationships within their movement. The researcher takes a risk in proposing new strategies or tactics, while the social movement takes a risk if they choose to accept the researcher’s suggestion, but this is concordant with the risks that alter-systemic movements must make constantly if they are to have a chance of success. Making proposals in militant research is thus a research ‘output’ appropriate to the movements in which the researcher is embedded.
Keywords: militant research, methods, social movements, strategy
Chris Waugh
(University of Manchester )
Altruistic hate mail? Navigating participant hostility in social movement research.
Abstract: All movement researchers face complex ethical and positional questions in their fieldwork, whether those be around men researching issues relating to feminism (Tienari & Taylor, 2019) or white researchers in communities of colour (Purvis, 2022). However, ethical review cannot always anticipate the “messiness of field relations” (Fielding, 2004) and researchers can encounter unexpected hostilities in the field. The established idea that a researcher is either an “insider” or “outsider” overlooks that such positionalities are often fluid, tenuous, and subject to change. There remains notable silence regarding awkward encounters and hostilities in the field – that is, to speak about when things seem to go wrong. Early career researchers might fear ruining their reputations by sharing failings in the field (Coffey, 1999), and more broadly emotional encounters are still regarded as “epistemologically irrelevant” in social research (Barter and Renold, 2003)

This paper explores unexpected hostilities that I encountered while conducting online ethnographic research into sexual politics and misogyny in the British left. After participating in a Labour Party panel event, I was bombarded with messages from self – described ‘gender critical socialist feminists’ for my views on trans rights. These messages ran a gamut from open threats, to attempts to convince me to rework my PhD research to exclude trans and non-binary people from the analysis on the grounds that this was a more “feminist” project. Such messages raised unexpected ethical, epistemological and ontological challenges, as many came from my participants, or from the demographic from which I was recruiting my participants. I reflect on how I navigated these hostilities, and offer insights into how researchers can work around, and with, hostilities in what we might call the “interrogative” or “low trust” cultures we might encounter in movements (Griffin, 2019).

Keywords: Hostility, positionality, Labour, ethics
Markus Holdo
(Lund University)
Interviewing to Dismantle the Far-Right: Research ethics and confrontations with imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy
Abstract: The term imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, frequently used by bell hooks, serves to highlight the ways that systems of oppression intersect. This implies not only that experiences of oppression are multi-layered but also that practices and ideas that support these systems are linked and mutually reinforcing. This paper builds on experiences with interviews in a project initially focused on far-right activism that gradually came to center on reflections on neoliberal notions of autonomy and meritocracy, colonial indifference to the suffering of Others, and patriarchal needs of control. The paper examines how these ideas and practices are related and engages in a critique of works of sociology that advocate for an empathetic approach to them. Instead, researchers can see confrontations with them as potential openings for critical self-reflection. Such openings are crucial because systems of oppression do not survive merely because of their vocal supporters, but through many people’s mundane actions that passively support them. Colonial, racist, neoliberal, and patriarchal thinking goes unnoticed in everyday life – also among people who wish for a world without these forms of oppression. Drawing on the idea of intersectionality as critical inquiry and praxis (Collins and Bilge 2020), the author examines various causes of discomfort and trace them to his own participation in the reproduction of oppressive systems. The paper ends by discussing how its arguments relate to recent works on decolonial ethics (Mignolo 2010), anti-racist self-reflection (Kendi 2020), solidarism (Kohn 2016), and feminism (Tronto 2013). Each offers a relational understanding of how ethics are structurally conditioned and suggests not merely empathy, or caring, as the antidote but also active self-reflection as a path for letting go of the impulse to dominate that lie at the root of each system of oppression.
Keywords: Interviewing, methodology, far-right, racism, politics, ethics
Panel 5C
Chair: Jack McGinn

Location: G32
Brooks Kirchgassner
(University of Connecticut; presenting remotely)
“Join Us In the Jailbreak:” Rising Up Angry, Anti-racism and Epistemic Solidarity in Chicago, Illinois, 1969-1972.
Abstract: In 1969, the Chicago chapter of the Illinois Black Panther Party announced the beginnings of a Rainbow Coalition to fight back against poverty, police brutality, and entrenched racism in one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Historians of this movement characterize the Rainbow Coalition as an instantiation of class solidarity. This Coalition included the Puerto Rican-led Young Lords Organizations and two neighborhood-groups largely composed of working class white youth, one of which was known as Rising Up Angry (RUA). RUA was started by a group of men and women from the North Side of Chicago with the goal of organizing young people in their neighborhoods to fight against police brutality (instead of each other), support anti-war efforts in the city with veterans’ groups, and increasing disenfranchised people’s sense of self, of what they could accomplish by uniting together and with others throughout the city.
I argue that the history of groups like RUA illustrates how white radicals can build an anti-racist political future, what I call epistemic solidarity. The three distinguishing features of epistemic solidarity are (1) a suspension of a closed or already constituted self, (2) deferral of one’s judgment to those who experience more pronounced and multifaceted kinds of oppression, and (3) following their decisions when it comes to determining the nature of and undertaking political actions. By engaging critical phenomenology of race literature (e.g., Linda Martín Alcoff, Charles W. Mills, and José Medina) I analyze how RUA used its monthly newspaper to educate its white readers about the political, economic, and social inequalities facing non-white groups from the perspective of the oppressed. I argue that RUA exemplifies a critical white identity using a phenomenological approach to understanding their own racial identity in the past and present, and its potentialities for the future.
Keywords: solidarity, epistemology, race, ethnicity, identity, and coalition
Lidia Yáñez
(University of Manchester)
Understanding the role of individual responses to repression in regimes characterized by systematic state violence: theoretical contributions from the “chile despertó” movement case
Abstract: Repression is a crucial factor in understanding the cycle of collective action and the barriers to political participation. However, its impact on social movements continues to be discussed in the literature, since there is no agreement on how repressive episodes affect the intensity of protests. This inconsistency has been attributed to the Western theoretical frameworks used to understand repression, which underestimate the agents response to face it. These responses are more relevant in societies characterized by systematic violence, such as Latin America, where authoritarian traits persist within democratic regimes established after dictatorships. In this context, the memories of past struggles transmitted by the family, political organizations and police institutions have a central role in the possible responses to repression and the framing of the conflict. Therefore, this research seeks to address this gap through the study of the ‘Chile Despertó’ (Chile Despertó) movement, which emerged and radicalized in a context of brutal repression and human rights violations. Specifically, this presentation will address the theoretical and empirical links between memories and responses to repression, with an emphasis on the specific individual and organizational mechanisms that explain this.
Keywords: social movements, repression, memory, tactics, individual responses
Nicolás Somma
(Sociology Department, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)
Labor movement repression in Latin America: diagnostic and explanations
Abstract: Although most Latin American countries transitioned to democracy three decades ago, the conditions for labor activism are far from ideal. In many countries, labor protests continue being heavily repressed by the police and paramilitary forces, with labor leaders routinely suffering from intimidation and persecution.

This paper makes two contributions to our knowledge on this topic. First, it presents a systematic diagnostic of labor repression in contemporary Latin America. Second, it examines the conditions that shape the forms and levels of repression of labor activists. To achieve these objectives, it resorts to a new dataset covering the characteristics and activities of labor movements in 17 Latin American countries during the 1990-2020 period – a dataset with measures of labor repression, persecution, and intimidation. Then it uses a protest events dataset for Chile – a country where repression is comparatively mild by regional standards – to disentangle the temporal dynamics of labor repression. Quantitative findings are illustrated with narratives on repression episodes.

Following the literature on social movement repression, I hypothesize that repression increases when labor movements are small and organizationally weak and voice more radical demands in the streets. Also, center and right governments should repress more than left ones, but the latter will become more repressive as honeymoon cycles dwindle. Finally, I expect repression to be higher in contexts with strong drug cartels, clashes between guerrilla and paramilitary forces, and full democracies that recently receded into semi-democratic regimes.

More generally, the paper attempts to raise awareness of the risks of social activism for improving people’s lives in regions with formal democracies but a heavy legacy of authoritarianism and violence.

Keywords: labor movements, police repression, violence, Latin America, Chile
Laya Hooshayri
(University of Manchester)
Psychology as an oppressive tool in The Women, Life and Freedom Uprising
Abstract: The Women, Life, and Freedom uprising in Iran, which began after the murder of Jina/Mahsa Amini in September 2022, brought the Iranian people closer to victory over the Islamic Republic regime than previous social movements. Among the various analyses of this uprising, we can focus on two dimensions of this uprising. The first dimension is the people’s courage and resistance, which almost everyone talks and writes about, and the other is the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s brutality and oppression, which is now more exposed than ever. In this presentation, I will look at an essential aspect of the regime’s repressive face: the psychological oppression inflicted on people, particularly women, during the Women, Life, Freedom uprising. The oppressions that usually overlooked, and we all know that they did not begin with this uprising and regime.

As a result, in this presentation, first I will discuss the psychological oppression perpetrated by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s regime since the beginning of the woman, life, freedom uprising. Then I will discuss the relationship of the Iranian psychology community, or, to put it another way, the Psy-complex, with this uprising and how the psychology community, while sympathising with the uprising of women, life, and freedom, has reformist and at best, subversive, rather than revolutionary, activities. Finally, I will discuss how psychology, in general, relates to the oppression of all people, particularly women, and how a psychologist can go beyond this understanding and contribute to creating a revolutionary situation.

Keywords: Women, Life, Freedom- The Iranian Uprising- Psychology- Psychological Oppressions
Panel 5D
Chair: Morgan Powell

Location: G33
Valentina Holecz
(Incite, University of Geneva)
Welcome with closed arms: Building and breaking narratives about young people’s path to political engagement
Abstract: This paper examines how young activists discuss their first political memory and talk about their path to engagement. By analysing young activists’ narratives, I illustrate the obstacles they face in their political trajectories. Through an analysis of the collective memories of 30 young activists aged 18–34 years living in Geneva, Switzerland, I find that young activists currently involved in institutional political organisations, such as parties and trade unions, have often faced the obstacle of becoming the dutiful citizen. As a result, they are more inclined to reproduce the becoming-of-age narrative, stating that during their childhood and adolescence they were ‘not ready to become an activist’ or that they were ‘not politically mature.’ By contrast, I find that young activists engaged in more grassroots feminist collectives, squats, or solidarity movements have had to overcome the obstacle of finding ways to politicise what were considered ‘personal issues’ in their childhood and adolescence, such as feminism, migration, or the environment. This paper contributes to the literature on political engagement and youth socialisation by depicting the various obstacles that young activists face before engaging in politics.
Keywords: young people, social movements, collective memory, young activists, childhood
Gomer Betancor Nuez, Jorge Benedicto Millán, María Martínez González & Francisco José Fernández-Trujillo Moares
(National University of Distance Education (Spain))
The impact of the pandemic on youth activism. An exploratory analysis for the Spanish case
Abstract: Since March 2020, the pandemic and the limitation of capacity and mobility have conditioned the collective action of social movements in Spain. The effect has been mainly on the repertoires of action and themes of denunciation, but also on the form of internal organisation. In this paper we analyse the effect of the pandemic on the organisational forms and repertoires of collective action in organisations with a high youth component. Our research question refers to the medium-term impacts of the pandemic on youth activism (on their demands, organisational forms and repertoires of action).
The analysis focuses on the Spanish case. From the wide range of organisations, we select three types: feminist, ecological and socio-communitarian. The selection is justified because the first two had a greater mobilisation and public controversy before the pandemic (massive mobilisations on 8M women strikes and Fridays for the climate in recent years), and the last one because it is the most structured organisations at the local level that have been more visible and have emerged with solidarity actions during this time. Our analysis is contextualised between 2020 and 2022.
We will carry out a methodological triangulation, using quantitative data from an international survey and semi-structured interviews with representatives of 12 of the above-mentioned collectives. Our conclusions problematise the question of whether these impacts (understood in organisational terms, in terms of issues on the agenda, or in terms of new repertoires) have been circumstantial or structural in each type of collective.
Keywords: Pandemic, impacts of social movements, youth activisms, repertoires of action
Olivia Pires Coelho, Fabiana Oliveira Canavieira
(University of Campinas)
The Participation of Children in Popular Protests against the Advance of the Far-Right in Brazil in 2018 and 2022
Abstract: This article studies the presence and participation of children in popular protests in the context of the two presidential runs of the far-right Brazilian politician, Jair Bolsonaro. The study was constructed from empirical material, especially the participation of the two authors in protests in 2018 and 2022, in different Brazilian cities. It also makes use of secondary sources, photographs, reports and scientific productions about the referred protests. We understand that the effective participation of children in contexts of social movements is a constant and globally challenge, not only in the Brazilian context.
For the theoretical foundation of this study, we rely on the contributions of Liebel (2012) and Rodgers (2020) for understanding how children themselves can exercise their citizenship and express their rights, beyond the legal guarantees of the State. We will work with the bias of participation through the construction of a democratic subjectivity in Pleyers (2015). Also, Finco (2015) and Gobbi (2020) to elucidate the relationship between children, social movements and the right to the street and public space.
Our objective is to contribute to the debate on the participation of children in popular manifestations and protests, as well as to contribute to the intersectional perspective from leftist movements.
Keywords: subjetivity, democracy, participation, children, Brazil;
15:00 – 15:15 Comfort Break

Refreshments available in the HBS foyer.

Trapped in a neoliberal laboratory? Social movements, democracy’s legitimacy, and the current conservative reaction

The study and theorisation of democracy and social movements studies, which have coalesced until recently, pay attention to how social movements become incubators (della Porta, 2020) of laboratories of social change. In 2019, a social revolt accelerated a constitutional moment in Chile that opened up the possibility of dismantling neoliberalism’s first laboratory by replacing Pinochet’s constitution through a fully elected constitutional assembly with gender parity and set quotas for Indigenous people’s delegates. However, not only have Chileans voted overwhelmingly to reject a new progressive constitution last September 2022, but also 62% of Chileans voters rejected the most democratic progressive deliberative space Chile has had. The result of the plebiscite last September 2022 marked a conservative reaction that seeks, by all means, to ensure that the pillars of neoliberalism are not touched, and it echoes the resurgence of far-right populism elsewhere. Long-standing social movements’ struggles against economic insecurities and inequalities have become hegemonic for far-right populist parties. Across Europe, populists – especially those on the ideological right – have been winning larger shares of the vote in recent legislative elections (Silver, 2022) and placing in power climate change sceptics while underscoring the growing electoral strength that far-right populism has displayed in Europe recently.

This panel aims to guide the discussion on how social movements navigate this setback.

  • What lessons can activists and social movements draw from the current moment?
  • How do social movements/activists reconfigure their strategies after defeat, and how is the question of politics addressed in that process?
  • Could this regressive moment offer an invaluable opportunity for political critique and practice orientation within social movements?


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Cristina Flesher Fominaya (PhD University of California, Berkeley) is Professor of Global Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark, where she heads up the Deminova Lab for democratic innovation and social movements. She is Editor in Chief of the journal Social Movement Studies, and co-founder of the open access social movements journal Interface. Her three most recent books are Democracy Reloaded: Inside Spain’s Political Laboratory from 15-M to Podemos (Oxford University Press 2020); Social Movements in a Globalized World 2nd Edition (Palgrave Macmillan/ Red Globe 2020) and The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary European Social Movements: Protest in Turbulent Times (2020). She has published widely on social movements, politics, and democracy.

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Carlos Ruiz Encina (Department of Sociology, Universidad of Chile) is a sociologist and Doctor in Latin America Studies from University of Chile. Professor Associate of Department of Sociology of same university and member of his Laboratorio de Análisis de Coyuntura Social. His research topics are social structure and conflict; class and social actor analysis; the relationship between the state, neoliberalism and development models; and Latin American sociological theory. Some of his latest books are La política en el neoliberalismo. Experiencias latinoamericanas (Lom Ediciones, 2019), Octubre chileno. La irrupción de un nuevo pueblo (Taurus, 2020), and El poder constituyente de la revuelta chilena (CLACSO, 2022) co-authored with Sebastián Caviedes.

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Sebastián Caviedes (Department of Sociology, University of Chile) is a sociologist, Master in Latin America Studies and Doctoral candidate in Social Sciences from University of Chile. Professor in the Baccalaureate program at the same university. He is member of Laboratorio de Análisis de Coyuntura Social of Department of Sociology. His research topics are intelectuallity and technocracies under Neoliberalism; State, economic development, and business groups; Social structure, classes, and socio-political conflict. His latest book is El poder constituyente de la revuelta chilena (CLACSO, 2022), co-authored with Carlos Ruiz Encina.

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Karla Henríquez is a social psychologist, doctor in American Studies, and researcher at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Democracy, Institutions and Subjectivity of the Catholic University of Louvain. Her research interests are activism and youth. Her latest projects are “Grassroots and Institutionalism: opportunities and Challenges in the current democratic tension for the Chilean and Ecuadorian Contexts” (Clacso) and “Memory and Resistance in women actors of Society: mournful lives in Victims of human rights violations” (Wallonie-Bruxelles International). She recently coordinated the books El despertar chileno: revuelta y subjetividad política (2022, Clacso) and Juventud y Pandemia. Reflexiones investigaciones y propuestas (2023, Ariadna).

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Juan Pablo Rodríguez is an asistant professor and researcher at the Reaserch Center for Social Sciences and Youth at the Catholic University Silva Henriquez. His research interests include political sociology, social movements and social and political theory. He is the author of Resisting Neoliberal Capitalism in Chile: the possibility of social critique (Palgrave 2020).

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Ivette Hernandez Santibanez is an interdisciplinary political sociologist, with a PhD in Sociology from University College London. Ivette is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Manchester. Before joining the University of Manchester, she taught at King’s College London, UCL Institute of Education (IOE), Polytechnic University of Catalonia, and the Adolfo Ibanez University in Chile.
Ivette’s research lies at the intersection of social movements, urban politics, neoliberalism and inequalities associated with market driven education agendas, and democratic transformations within post-authoritarian societies. She has extensively researched the socio-spatial constitution of the Chilean student movement and its role in collectively organising a larger political strategy to transcend neoliberalism in Chile. She is currently writing her monograph on space and politics in the Chilean student movement.

Wednesday 14th June, 2023

09:00 – 10:30 Session 7
Panel 7A

Contemporary European Antifascism
Panel coordinator(s): Ali Jones (CTPSR, Coventry)

Contemporary European Antifascism
Coordinator(s): Ali Jones (CTPSR, Coventry)
This panel explores the historical trajectories and present reality of contemporary European Antifascism in Poland, France and Germany. It investigates questions of heritage, historical context, discursive representation, self-understanding, and direct action in this transnational milieu, and offers a fruitful breadth of perspective and understanding.
Keywords: Antifascism, Political Protest, Militant violence, European movements.
Chair: Meghan Tinsley

Location: G6
Grzegorz Piotrowski
(University of Gdansk)
Polish antifascist / antiracist activists in the UK
Abstract: Polish antifascism has a ling history. It’s contemporary phase can be dated back to the mid-1980s, when the violence of the skinheads reached levels that required a self-defence strategy. This has set a common perception of antifascism as a subcultural struggle between skinheads and anarchists. However, the Polish far right since 2005 has undergone a process of institutionalisation that resulted in decreased levels of violence (Platek and Plucienniczak 2017). At the same time the context of illiberal democracy has re-designed the scene of Polish social movements already in late 2015. Since then Poland witnessed a political backslide. This has created a number of reactions, using either new or established forms of political resistance. One of such examples is the antifascist movement that recently had to face new challenges – in particular the institutionalisation of xenophobic rhetoric and the growth of the far-right sector. Since then Polish social activism has spread abroad, due to large, post-2004 diaspora created after the EU enlargement. One of the most popular destinations wa the United Kingdom, where numerous Poles continued their activism or got involved into social issues. The case studies to this presentation are two Polish antifascist groups active in UK – Dywizjon 161 and POMOC (Polish Migrants Organising for Change). Their activities reflect the changes that were observed within the Polish antifascist movement – from subcultural groups (such as Dywizjon 161) to groups that are more intersectional, collaborating with other movements and understanding antifascism as a broader struggle that involves the state as one of the key actors in their struggles. The main question is, how does the immigrant experience of the Polish activists in the UK makes their activism different from the homeland counterparts, in particular, how does the current state policies (and politics of the Law and Justice party) affect the studied movement.
Rhys Partridge
(CTPSR, Coventry; presenting remotely)
Media Discourse and Antifascist Political Violence in France, 1980s onwards
Abstract: This paper aims to explore shifts in media discourse on antifascist political violence in France from the 1980s onwards. While French media has featured relatively regular articles and publications on the antifascist phenomenon in the country since 1984, for many years it was viewed as a sort of ‘non-topic’, primarily used to justify media criticism of incumbent governments rather than to explore the actions or motivations of activists themselves. This shifted in the 2010s, when international media discourse began to explore the alleged relationship between antifascism and terrorism and ‘antifa’ became a common buzzword for Western media. In order to explore this shift, this paper aims to compare how specific instances of antifascist political violence in France were reported across a wide temporal span in France’s three journals of record, namely Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Libération. The specific instances of antifascist political violence analysed in this paper all come in the wake of far-right success, either in France or internationally: In Toulouse in 1985, Paris in 1992 and 2002, and across the country in 2013 and 2018. Comparing media discourse on these isolated instances of antifascist political violence in different contexts will begin to illustrate the extent of the shift of portrayals of antifascism in French media, and reflect a growing trend in international discourse.
Christin Jänicke
(WZB – Berlin Social Science Center, Center for Civil Society Research)
Black-Red Utopias in Autumn ’89. Radical left organising in the East in 1989
Abstract: Civil society from the ‘underground’ (Weiß 2015) of the GDR was small but diverse. In the 30 years of the so-called peaceful revolution, the East German opposition or citizens’ movement in autumn 1989 is praised. But the official historiography of the Federal Republic of Germany quickly subsumed their aims under Kohl’s promises of ‘flourishing landscapes’ and personal prosperity, with which the GDR oppositionists, in reality, had little in common. Moreover, the Kohl government had no genuine interest in an independent democratisation process. On the contrary, the highest premise of the Federal Republic was: victory in the class struggle West-East, which means the abolition of the GDR.

Nevertheless, there were a few who consciously opposed the SED outside parliament and, at the same time, rejected the national unification mania and a sell-out of the GDR to the Western capital. These included small associations such as the Autonomous Antifa and squatters in Potsdam and East Berlin, parts of the Freie Arbeiterinnen- und Arbeiter-Union (Free Workers’ Union), the Berlin Umweltbibliothek, Kirche von Unten, the Revolutionäre Autonome Jugendverband (Revolutionary Autonomous Youth Association) and the 13. Autonome Gruppe (13th Autonomous Group).

In the paper, I reconstruct radical left positioning and practices of activists and initiatives between system change and utopia, personal fulfilment and political organising. What did the activist want, what were their ideas, and what did they want to achieve? What lessons can be learned from this time? The analysis is based on biographical interviews and historical documents surrounding the social upheaval of 1989/90.

Weiß, P.-U. (2015): Civil Society from the Underground, in Journal of Urban History 41 (2015) 4, pp. 647–664.

Ali Jones
(Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry)
German Antifa and the Paradox of Ghostly Militanz
Abstract: This paper examines the ongoing state prosecution case against ‘Antifa Ost’ in Leipzig. The ongoing trial seeks to ‘make a legal example’ of the Antifascist activist Lina E, a 25 year old student accused of being the planning mastermind leading a 10-person clandestine Antifa cell on a series of violent attacks against Neo-Nazis between 2018 and 2020 in the federal states of Saxony and Thuringia. One must note that in Saxony up to 30% of the population supports the far-right, anti-migrant, and nationalist AfD party. While these charges against Lina E are highly debatable, the paper instead investigates this case in the context of the historical trajectory of Militanz since the 1990s. While Militanz is part of a radical Left tradition of morally justified action, this paper argues that its current application in Leipzig is problematic, due to the lack of any political communication from Antifa Ost. Their activism disturbs the political status quo, but remains unwilling (perhaps unable) to communicate this interruption in any widely legible form that can be read as morally justified. Rather, Lina’s alleged actions reflect a new rendition of Antifa Militanz, moving from an outward facing representational politics to what I call an ‘inward turn’ toward the formation of a radical subjectivity (Jones 2018b). This self-referential identity politics builds upon the social movement ‘politics of the self’ of the 1970-80s. It also reflect a deep disenchantment with public political engagement. While never espousing class revolution, contemporary Antifa nonetheless reflects the paradox of a non-representational politics seemingly dedicated to the moral good of society, while also refusing (or being unable) to engage in any sort of discourse to that end. This paper will analyze that paradox as a ‘ghostly Militanz’, within the context of the changing nature of Militanz since the 1980s.
Panel 7B
Chair: Aylwyn Walsh

Location: G7
Lukas Champagne, AM, Robert Fisher
(University of Connecticut School of Social Work)
Organising and Ideology in the Austerity State: Implications for Community Organising Education
Abstract: Social work in the US and UK has a largely neglected legacy of structural analysis and organised resistance to the vicissitudes and expediencies of state. This work began at the turn of the 20th century and was largely abandoned by mid-century when the profession became disconnected to social movements led by women and minoritized groups. During four-plus decades of neoliberal and austerity governance, community organizing (CO) education has been in decline in the social work profession and has largely been moderated to adhere to the mandates of technical managerialism and austerity. Missing from these moderated forms of organising is a coherent structural ideology that evolves an economic critique of the state, with goals and expansive coalition work toward meaningful social justice and class solidarity.

Demand among community members for political education and meaningful resistance has been on the rise among those engaged in community organising work in the US and UK, and they are savvy enough to see that depoliticised forms do little to curb rising inequality and right-wing populist regimes globally. Effective organising must do more than invoke Freire and Alinsky in proposals evaluated by state apparatuses that fund technocratic and “entrepreneurial” solutions and ignore grassroots organising entirely.

Using archival materials and interviews with organisers in the UK, our paper will discuss the limits and opportunities of state funding in the US and UK, forms of organising which combine New Left and traditional labor organizing to meet modern demands and connect to social movements, and existing structures through which funding for community organizing can reach experienced grassroots organisers trained in structural and economic critique.

Keywords: community organising, social movements, ideology, coalition, class solidarity
Talia Charkawi
(Lancaster University)
Performative knowledge production in social movements: The case of the Syrian post-2011 counter-archiving movement
Abstract: Twelve years since the outbreak of uprisings in Syria and the ensuing forced migration as a result of the violence and armed conflict, Syrian anti-authoritarian activism still has an evident presence on the squares of several European capitals. What has little visibility at these demonstrations is the knowledge generated by and within this decade-long activist movement. Using data from longitudinal ethnographic fieldwork and digital ethnography, this paper draws upon social movement studies to examine an assemblage of archival projects by members of the new Syrian diaspora in Europe which focus on documenting the dead and the disappeared since the 2011 uprisings. The analysis demonstrates how early grassroots DIY archival efforts morphed into a counter-archiving movement which has emerged from collective expressions of loss, memorialisation and grievances against the Syrian regime, and how this movement in turn continue to make rights claims. In so doing, these projects, their practices and processes of documenting the dead through the composition of contestatory ‘living’ archives constitute an epistemological experiment within the broader Syrian anti-authoritarian movement. And, the movement that these projects have coalesced into constitute sites of critical knowledge production in their own right. The knowledge produced is materially situated in transnational and extraterritorial relations of power and struggle, domination and resistance, offering a testimonial critique of the material and symbolic violence of the Syrian regime and its necropolitical technologies. The findings highlight the performative possibilities of archival knowledge generated by the Syrian counter-archiving movement through chronicling their instrumentalisation by various actors (including the archivists) in a series of litigation acts brought against (former) members of the Syrian regime in front of European courts to argue for justice for Syrians, and how the success of a couple of these cases ushered in a prelude to possible scenarios of transitional justice for Syrians.

Keywords: knowledge production, performativity, extraterritorial movement, Syria, counter-archive
John Krinsky & Hillary Caldwell
(The City College of New York, City University of New York)
Spontaneous and Structured Strategizing: Reflections on Learning Dynamics in a Housing Coalition in New York City
Abstract: How, in the face of multiple crises, changing politics, and a deep, structural dependence of the state on real-estate speculation, can movements for popular control of housing and land learn to maneuver? This paper draws on twelve years of work with a housing and land reform coalition in New York City to reflect upon the interplay between more and less structured spaces of learning in social movements. The paper underscores that learning in social movement settings involves strategizing (and vice-versa) as well as a process of “expansion” in which movement actors gain increased critical awareness of the social contradictions that structure their environments. The paper moves through some of these contradictions while also discussing several pedagogical strategies developed within the coalition. The paper begins with a primary contradiction—that between the use-value and exchange-value of land and housing—and moves, with a growing coalition’s work, through a range of other, emergent contradictions. These included: working with a government that has little structural interest in the success of a coalition dedicated to the decommodification of land and housing (or even the maintenance of the decommodified housing it, itself, owns and operates); organizing support for democratically controlled land and housing without any control over the tenancy of any housing brought into the decommodified housing stock; the high cost of housing officially deemed to be “affordable;” the limitations of housing as a demand for democratic control; and the tendency of social movement organizations to compete with each other in a growing movement field. In the face of each of these contradictions, which were experienced in overlapping ways and times, the coalition had to learn to keep itself together, and how it wanted to create political demands in response to them. It did so with a combination of structured learning processes and peer-to-peer learning.
Keywords: strategizing, learning, contradiction, cohesion pedagogy
Darren Webb
(University of Sheffield)
Ah Bartleby! The pedagogical (im)potency of Occupy Wall Street
Abstract: On October 26th 2011 a post appeared on the Occupy Wall Street Library blog titled “I would prefer not to”. The constant refrain of Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener became one of Occupy’s defining mottos, appearing on placards, T-shirts and tote bags. The phrase became so symbolic that it was used on the posters promoting the general strike called for May 2012. Bartleby’s mode of passive resistance has been theorised extensively. His appropriation by OWS has been the source of much theorising too. What I want to do in this paper is use Bartleby as a useful analogy for exploring Occupy Wall Street as a pedagogical space/educative process. While Bartleby is held by some as an exemplary embodiment of study, the paper argues that the performativity of his resistance helps cast light on the pedagogical lacunae in Occupy Wall Street. What Bartleby signals is that an act of intransigent refusal does not in and of itself possess constituent power. Work is needed. This is not simply a case of needing a “vision”. It is also a case of working tirelessly to sustain the human relations from which such a vision can emerge. Bartleby wasted away, not because he did not articulate what he wanted, but because he relinquished his humanity. What I argue is that the lacunae within OWS were as much related to the neglect of human bonds at the level of daily life as they were to the lack of a grand strategic vision. What I also argue is that pedagogical work is needed to connect the two.
Keywords: OWS, social movement learning, utopianism, communist study, radical pedagogy
Panel 7C
Chair: Birgan Gokmenoglu

Location: G32
Jane Kirkpatrick
(University of the West of England)
Shaping Social Movements: International Actors in Kosovo and Afghanistan
Abstract: International state-building efforts, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor and Kosovo, seek to ensure security and implement liberal democracy, including the development of a vibrant civil society. However, within this context, grassroots organisation is often overlooked. In order to better understand the direct and indirect influences of international actors on grassroots activity, this paper argues that a political opportunity framework can help us examine the extent to which international actors influence the development of grassroots organisational development. A case study analysis of two entities, Vetëvendosje, a social movement and now political party in Kosovo, and Afghanistan 1400, a civil society organisation (CSO) in Afghanistan, is supported by a range of interviews with activists, as well as employees of international actors and CSOs in an effort to understand the perspectives of both international actors and grassroots activists seeking political change.

The influence of the international presence has been considered on two levels. The first is via the shaping of political opportunities, and the second via the strategic decisions made by Vetëvendosje and Afghanistan 1400 in response to the international presence in Kosovo and Afghanistan, respectively. Although the international presence of international actors generally increases the political opportunities, this remained low in both cases for some years after the intervention, clearly influencing the choice of tactics. The two entities decided to participate in electoral politics alongside their other activities. Vetëvendosje’s leader is now Prime Minister of Kosovo after the party won 50% of votes in the 2021 election. While Afghanistan 1400 tried to establish a new political entity, the Taliban takeover made this almost impossible. The findings of this research suggest that the international presence played a key role in shaping strategic choices, such as electoral participation, but this often occurred in unexpected and indirect ways.

Keywords: Political Opportunity, Strategy, Kosovo, Afghanistan, International Actors, State-building
Buli Edjeta Jobir
(EUCLID University and RECOT ( Research, Consultancy and Training Insititute)
Oromo Popular Protest of 2014-2018 in multiethnic society: theory, achievements and failures.
Abstract: Topic: Oromo Popular Protest of 2014-2018 : theory, achievements and failures
Keywords: Protest; nonviolence; change; success/failure, democratization/authoritarianism; diversity.

Ethiopia is sometimes referred to as a bastion of freedom for Africa. The antithesis refers to it as a dependent colonial state that subjugated several autonomous peoples, such as the Oromo people, who constitute more than 40% of its current population. Peaceful social uprising and armed conflict has characterized Ethiopian political trajectories that largely spring from its unique history. The Oromo Protest (2014-2018) is not researched as to its expected or unexpected role in initiating a chain of events for democratization or installing authoritarianism.

On 25 April 2014, University students in a town called Ambo, Oromiya Regional State, Ethiopia, conducted a massive gathering on their campus premises. Before lightening up the historic demonstration, they swore they would not indulge in physical violence and underlined their strict adherence to peaceful struggle. Once the battle strategy was laid down, they started to discuss the point they wanted to bring to the attention of the authorities. These points were: First, the so-called Integrated Master Plan of Addis Ababa breaches the rights of the Oromo people since it unnecessarily displaces the Oromo farmers; leads to an uncontrolled expansion of the City into the hinterland of Oromia without the consent of the Oromo; epitomizes the disrespect towards the Oromo people. Second, demand legal retribution for the insults and mistreatment of the Oromo people and the human rights abuses. Third, an urgent response to the widespread corruption in Oromia that has dragged the Oromo people into poverty. By holding this demand up, the University students peacefully marched into the town and came back peacefully to their dormitories. The same action followed the next day in the same fashion.

The popular uprising spread to several cities. High school students and the young joined the course. It continued for the next four years until, in March 2018, it led to the resignation of the then Prime Minster, Hailemariam Desalegn. In April of the same year, the ruling party, Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front, elected a new chairman, Abiy Ahmed, who assumed Premiership by default. The new Prime Minster, Abiy Ahmed, kicked off a peace agreement with Eritrea, released political prisoners, and revoked the draconian oppressive law, referred to as the law on terrorism.

Yet Ethiopia once again plunged into a civil war. The government intensified its attack on the Oromo Liberation Army in Oromiya. In November 2020, the central government declared an all-out war on Tigray Regional State. The Nobel Peace Prize winner became the champion of war. Ethiopia became once again a pariah state. All the promises and some of the positive actions were dramatically reversed. Huge human rights abuses by the government of Nobel Prize Winner and Eritrean forces in Tigray and Oromiya became the order of the day.

No systematic study has yet been conducted on this essential popular movement and its results. Therefore, I would like to ponder: What were the features and processes of the popular uprising led to the change of government in 2018? What is the socio-political function of the uprising that led to the rise of the Nobel Prize Winner Prime Minster and his plunge into the war that recorded incalculable human rights abuses and possibly ethnic cleansing? How and why do the ideals of the popular uprising fail to materialize? Why could the popular movement not rekindle when it was clear that its ideals had not come to fruition? What are the chances of success of the popular uprising/social movements in the context of third-world countries, dictatorial regimes and multiethnic societies such as Ethiopia? was the uprising peaceful as the participant hoped? What factors affect the peacefulness or violence and success of the uprising? What are the practical and theoretical implications of this popular uprising?

By Buli Edjeta Jobir, 2023,

Keywords: Protest; nonviolence; change; success/failure, democratization/authoritarianism; diversity.
Anson Nater
(York University, Toronto, Canada)
The Greatest Refusal of All: a Marcusean meditation on objections to war and the ‘protest against that which is.’
Abstract: The combined efforts of some G7 member nations, like France, Germany, and the U.K., alongside the US government stoking of Cold War-like tensions with China and Russia, prompt us to reconsider the role and importance of a robust anti-war movement. As contemporary wars become more frequent, deadly, and operate through asymmetric proxies, it is incumbent upon us and not society to consider the basis upon which an individual or collective refusal and objection to war is grounded. In scholarly and popular fora, conscientious objection is narrowly defined as a totalizing objection to war. It is also a legal right afforded only to members of the military. Beyond this limited interpretation, conscientious objection is a form of political action as well as a focus for campaigning and organizing. This is the essence of the anti-war peace movement. However, conscientious objection among the citizenry has no legal standing save that of the right of ‘peaceful’ protest against state violence. Since the Vietnam and Korean wars, the idea of a selective objection to a given war deemed unjust has provided fertile ground to extricate the idea of refusal and objection to war from its normative, ethical frameworks of non-violence (or pacifism) and the strict legal framework of military jurisprudence. Against this backdrop is an unprecedented period where the culture of permanent warfare and the warfare state converge with the means for nuclear armageddon. Further experimentation with automated killing machines has seemingly made human conscience no longer an obstacle and arguably depoliticized conscientious objection entirely. This paper seeks to offer thoughts on a critical theory of and a radical reimagining of the potential for (conscientious) objections to war in the post-9/11 era. Could conscientious objection, its own kind of refusal, be reconciled within Herbert Marcuse’s (1964) conceptualization of the Great Refusal and be made accessible to the broader public?
Keywords: Applied Political Philosophy, Conscientious Objection, Refusal and Civil Disobedience, Radical moral imagination, Critical Theory
10:30 – 10:45 Comfort Break

Refreshments available in the HBS foyer.
10:45 – 12:15 Session 8
Panel 8A
Chair: Lesley Wood

Location: G6
Morgan Rhys Powell
(University of Manchester)
Deconstructing the collective actor: Strategy formation and transformation in a platform labour dispute
Abstract: Based on immersive ethnographic participation in a high-pressure labour dispute, this paper explores processes of strategic decision-making and remaking within a new collective actor.

Since the first known strike amongst Deliveroo couriers in 2016, food delivery platforms have emerged as sites of intense labour-capital conflict. Wildcat work stoppages, coordinated strikes and targeted protests have proliferated in the UK, usually in the form of brief outbursts of action amongst non-unionised couriers, which dissipate within days.

The 2021-22 Stuart Delivery dispute interrupted this erratic pattern. Beginning in December 2021, Stuart couriers in Sheffield – organised through the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) – initiated a campaign of boycotts targeting deliveries from key restaurants, with the aim of exerting secondary pressure on Stuart following an imposed change in couriers’ pay structure. Simultaneously, the couriers and their union sought to generalise collective action across England in order to increase pressure on the company.

Lasting over six months, “the UK’s longest continuous gig-economy strike” saw the deployment of a range of creative tactics – though none of these were ultimately successful, with the dispute quietly coming to an end following a decline in courier participation and a decision by the IWGB to cease efforts at generalisation in June 2022.

Through the lens of strategy, this paper sets out to understand both the longevity of this campaign and the means by which it was conducted more broadly. It identifies the significance of both dramatic moments of strategy-transformation and of continuous, latent processes whereby tactics were applied and tested. In addition, it pays particular attention to the challenges of maintaining a single, unitary strategy amongst diverse constituent actors – including unionised couriers, non-unionised couriers, union officials, and socialist volunteers – which ultimately saw the disintegration of the collective actor and collapse of the campaign.

Keywords: labour, union, strategy, collectivity
Piyush Pushkar, Louise Tomkow
(University of Manchester)
Sedentary Bias and the Socialist Example
Abstract: The UK’s NHS is an example of socialised healthcare: state-funded, free at the point of use, comprehensive, and universal. However, recent national governments have limited migrants’ access to NHS services, delineating between the eligibility of citizens and non-citizens. This chapter explores how activists campaigning to protect the NHS navigate this.
Our argument is based on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork with activists campaigning against cuts and privatisation, and ongoing involvement with campaigns against charging migrants for healthcare in the UK. This work revealed the limitations of anchoring campaigns in the iconicity of the NHS. The NHS has been described as a nationalist institution. It benefits from the exploitation of healthcare professionals from former colonies and, simultaneously, governments have used the exclusion of migrants from NHS care to signal to resident populations that the UK is not a “soft touch”. The government thus instrumentalises the NHS in its “hostile environment” policy, parading its focus on the rights of citizens, at the expense of non-citizens.We show how, in response, activists construct moral arguments that owe more to class solidarity than to the concept of citizenship. Activists considered the NHS as an example of “actually existing socialism” and based their moral arguments on references to NHS values: free, comprehensive, and universal. The inclusion of the rights of migrant populations in their campaigns was rooted in this last value – universality. Rather than references to citizenship, which work by drawing boundaries, universality eschews boundaries, instead focusing on shared interests. Consequently, the erosion of migrants’ rights is not an unfortunate inequality to be tackled by charitable citizens. Instead, as universality considers the migrant “one of us”, an attack on migrants becomes an attack on “us”. An implicit coalition is thus formed in which the campaign is not one of advocacy, but of solidarity.
Keywords: citizenship, migrants, NHS, privatisation, solidarity, universality
Carys Hughes
(University of East London)
Understanding Community Wealth Building through Left Governmentality
Abstract: Community Wealth Building (CWB) has been championed as a way to transform local economies and promote community well-being, at the expense of neoliberal policy agendas. However, as Milburn and Russell (2018: 46) have highlighted, there is a conceptual gap in CWB thinking and practice, if it is to ‘[go] further than a social-democratic commitment to redistributive publicly-owned services and infrastructure’ and instead become part of a ‘programme of fundamental change capable of producing a transformational shift in our societies’. CWB needs a sense of the kind of society and the kind of human it is trying to produce, and an understanding of how it will achieve this (ibid.). In other words, CWB needs a theory of governmentality.
Involving deliberate, calculated efforts to ‘structure the possible field of action of others’ (Foucault, 1982: 790), CWB is a paradigm example of governmentality. However, it has been largely ignored within the governmentality literature. This can be attributed to the almost exclusive focus of governmentality scholarship on liberal and neoliberal forms of governmentality.
However, in recent years, a fledgling ‘left governmentality’ literature has begun to emerge. This paper explores whether theories of left governmentality can help us to understand Community Wealth Building, and to help provide the theory which can underpin its role in a strategy of societal transformation.


Milburn, K. and Russell, B.T. (2018) What can an institution do? Towards Public-Common partnerships and a new common-sense. Renewal: A journal of social democracy, 26 (4). pp. 45-55.

Foucault, M. (1982). The Subject and Power. Critical Inquiry, 8(4), 777–795.

Keywords: Community Wealth Building, Governmentality, Left governmentality, socialist strategy
Panel 8B
Chair: Chris Waugh

Location: G7
María Florencia Langa, Nicole Doerr
(Copenhagen University)
Visual storytelling, and the agency of earth, animals, and humans in climate justice activism in Europe and Latin America
Abstract: How do climate activists communicate their message digitally, and how do they use visual storytelling in order to reach out to millions of activists in northern Europe and in the Global South? This question is of relevance to research on climate activism, visual culture, and digital media internationally. Our case study contributes to research on North South comparative studies of climate activism focusing on digital visual storytelling. We analyze the social media content of climate activists telling stories about the agency of earth, animals, and humans in Argentina and Germany, including transnational actors connecting Fridays for Future groups between different countries in Latin America and Europe. We build on and extend the literature on visual storytelling among European and Latin American climate activists through a new data set and an interdisciplinary method of visual and discursive multimodal analysis of digital storytelling. We show how animals, the Earth and other non-humans take a central role in visual digital storytelling on climate justice in Latin America, through art, humor, and performance strategies. In comparison, human hero-characters, technology and science take a more central role among German climate justice activists, whom we find to use a rationalist style of digital storytelling. We interpret these cross-national and cross-regional differences drawing on intersectional and cultural approaches to protest and environmentalist activism. The differences in visual storytelling and emotional styles raise a discussion on how androcentric vs non-human hero characters contain different affective messages targeting FFF supporters in specific, varying cultural and political contexts of climate discourse in Northern Europe vs. Latin America. Moreover, we explore which images travel across regions, and which don’t. For example, we show a selective translation of some Latin American hero characters in Germany, which demonstrates the transnational connections and between North and South. This trans-national comparative perspective adds to decolonial and postdevelopmental approaches by exploring the global entanglement, interconnections and intersections of power in shared FFF networks.
Keywords: online activism, visual analysis, human-nature relations, environmentalism, climate change,
Sadique PK
(media one Academy of communication)
The Significance of the Mediaone Verdict: An Examination of Press Freedom, Popular Sovereignty, and Law in Indian Democracy.
Abstract: This paper discusses the recent landmark verdict by the Supreme Court of India lifting the ban on Mediaone TV, a Malayalam news channel largely owned by Muslim minority stakeholders. The case reflects the crucial struggle happening in Indian democracy regarding the imageries of popular sovereignty, media, and law. The law comes to stand as both a limit and positive condition in this process of event-making, where acts of legal and extralegal repression of publication can also become the stuff of news about news makers. Political sovereignty is thoroughly mediated by the production of news. And subjects invested in the idea of democracy are remarkably reflexive about the role of publicly circulating images and texts in the very constitution of their subjectivity.Ban on mediaone tv specifically pointed out the constitition of subjecvtivity that exceeds sepcific cultural national imagination. Popular protest indicated the possibilty of multiple imaginations in pulic sphere and neccesity of that .

This paper will critically analyse the discourse produced by State, Judiciary and popular protest in for and against the ban and will show shifting ways the political erupts through the cricial sites of media , state and popular struggles. The popular protest and legal battle after this also revealed the fact that marginal forces in Indian democracy are not merely subjects or victims of the regime but also agents whose resistance both contributes to their own freedom and rights and shapes ideas about freedom and expanding the notion of public.

Keywords: popular sovereignty, media, and law.
Ben Manski, Dhruv Deepak
(George Mason University )
Coding the Future: Digital Commoners and the Constitution of the Next System
Abstract: Technologists and the systems they code are constituting future worlds inhabited by citizens of the mid-21st century. The convergence of distributed ledger, spatial web, and AI technologies is producing new domains and new sovereigns, and defining substantive human rights in the process. Critical material analysis of these emergent technologies and their structural affordances provides a sense of what may come. But a more complete account will also attend to the praxis of those technologists designing systems intended to expand and deepen human rights. We recognize these technologists as a class of social movement activists and therefore as important sources of data about both their movement and the technologies their movement produces. We apply a movement building analysis to the next system initiatives of crypto commoners, platform cooperativists, and solidarity economy technologists in constructing a “technological commonwealth.” We similarly analyze the introduction of new digital technologies to facilitate participatory popular constitution making in contemporary Chile, Poland, Scotland, Spain, Thailand, and the United States. Both sets of movement projects are efforts to code the future. We find evidence of growing connections among these projects across the different technological, economic, and political domains from which they originated. These connections point to the possibility of a new techno-constitutional turn in the social movement of the 2020s.
Keywords: System change, technology, constitution, solidarity economy
Muhammed Alakitan
(University of Cambridge)
Digital Activism on Nigeria’s Twittersphere
Abstract: Starting with the Arab Spring, discourse on digital activism in Africa in the last decade has chiefly been about uncovering the successes and failures of social movements and the role of the internet. Studies articulate activism by emphasising the infrastructures of the internet; they posit that digital technology allows citizens to bypass traditional media to convey their dissent. Some other studies downplay these propositions and contend that internet-mediated social movements enable slacktivism, state surveillance, and dis(mis)information. However, these conclusions are either too simplistic or too wrong because agency cannot be found in only one end (Elyachar, 2017; Mutsvairo, 2016).

By citing examples from three social movements that have marked the turn of digital activism in Nigeria in the last decade – #OccupyNigeria, #BringBackOurGirls and #EndSARS – my paper explains Twitter as a public sphere for continued civic and political discourse, even though it has inherent complexities. I define influence as symbolic capital and use it as an entry point to explore social media cultural productions, thereby opening up new ways of understanding contemporary activism, power and participation, and social change. I draw on studies on social movements and digital media, public sphere, civil sphere, and netnography to propose a critical analytical approach to studying digital activism in Nigeria. I contend that such approach is an important step to understanding civil advocacy and contributing unique epistemological insights on the use of social media and citizenship in Africa.

Keywords: Digital Activism, Digital Public Sphere, Influencer, #EndSARS, #BBOG, #OcuppyNigeria
Panel 8C
Chair: Markus Holdo

Location: G32
Piotr Goldstein, Magdalena Muszel
(ZOiS Berlin & DeZIM Berlin, University of Gdansk)
Beyond ‘Repertoire of Contention’: Everyday activism in today’s Poland
Abstract: When talking about activism, we tend to think of the work of charities and NGOs on the one hand, and protest movements on the other. This paper instead focuses on “everyday activism” – on the work of informal groups and initiatives and on what are often individual and ephemeral activisms. It shows a broad repertoire of social engagements ranging from ad hoc groups tutoring the elderly in online tools during the pandemic – to gorilla gardening – to stealing animals to protect them from nasty owners. It aims to highlight the diversity of the undertaken acts and actions, and to understand the motivations for engaging in such, rather than in more formal, endeavours.

The paper brings together findings from the international MOBILISE Project based on two waves of interviews in Warsaw, Lublin and Gdańsk, with insights from ethnography and visual ethnography conducted mostly in Lodz within the “Beyond NGOs and Protest Movements” project based at ZOiS Berlin.

Keywords: everyday activism, acts, actions, ethemeral, Poland
Ashjan Ajour
(University of Leicester )
Hunger Strike Experience and the Embodiment of Palestinian Dispossession and Collective Revolutionary Subjectivity
Abstract: The hunger strikers’ discourse of their dispossession in the Israeli prison system and sacrifice of the body in their hunger strike is constructed in relation to the way in which Israeli settler colonialism aims at the dispossession of Palestinians and the annihilation their political subjectivity and resistance. This article illuminates the relationality between the hunger strikers’ lived experience and Palestinian collective subjectivity. Through interviews it reveals that the exceptional act of hunger striking is an exemplification of the collective anti-colonial resistance subjectivity in the face of colonial dispossession. From their singular encounter with colonial power, they constitute an intersubjective political consciousness of Palestinian self-determination at the collective level. This article situates the hunger strike experience in the wider context of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli settler colonialism and the condition of the indigenous Palestinian people. It investigates the hunger strikers’ subjectivity within that context and provides insights into their experiences in relation to it. Their embodied practice of hunger striking, which is a singular and solitary act, is in fact viewed by the interviewees as the carrier of the collective political struggle against Israeli colonisation. The hunger strike becomes a representation of Palestinian self-determination and the body of the hunger striker a symbol of the collective Palestinian body politic and collective will. The accounts of former hunger strikers stress that the dispossession experienced in the Israeli prison system goes beyond the incarceration of the captive body. It also functions with the aim to dispossess Palestinian detainees of their humanity and annihilate their political subjectivity and Palestinian collective revolutionary consciousness. I look at the experience of individual hunger strikers in relation to the broader collective national liberation movement which strives for freedom and self-determination. This provides an understanding of the historical production of resistance subjectivity in the context of settler the Israeli colonial project. The article is based on in-depth interviews between 2015 -2018 with Palestinian former hunger strikers who were protesting against their administrative detention in Israeli prisons. They recounted after their release reached through agreements with the Israeli Prisons Authorities (IPA).
Keywords: Hunger Strike; Lived Experience; Dispossession; Body politics; Embodied; Collective Subjectivity; Settler Colonialism.
Matthijs Gardenier, Arthur Groz
(University Paul Valery Montpellier 3)
Anti-squat mobilisations at the crossroads between moral panic and vigilantism
Abstract: The French mediatic arena regularly witnesses high profile moral panics aroung anti-squatting mobilisations. These cases pit small property owners against squatters perceived as ‘stealing’ their property and criticise the judicial delays in evicting squatters. These situations give rise to localised mobilisations involving self-proclaimed ‘concerned citizens’ and far-right activists. Their repertoire of action is hybrid in the sense that it combines actions from the classic repertoire of social movements with harsher actions such as beatings or forced evictions. Among the different mobilisations of the last few years, we can mention the mobilisation of local residents, former Yellow vest and far right activists leading to the eviction by anti-squat activists of the occupyers of the house of 88-year-old Roland in Toulouse in February 2021 as well as the eviction and destruction by the inhabitants of Villeron of a camp occupied by Roma in February 2023.
The paper focuses on two aspects of these anti-squat mobilisations. The first is the characterisation of the repertoires of action and of the political framings of these anti-squat coalitions. In a larger perspective, it is not only the actions of these groups that are to be considered but their interaction (conflicting or not) with the other actors of these social events: squatters, owners of occupied premises, local communities, public authorities, local and national media etc. The examination of these interactions also allows us to think of these events in terms of ‘moral panics’ staged by different media and their consequences in terms of legislative developments: two anti-squatting laws in 2021 and 2023 have been voted by the French Parliament. In methodological terms, this paper is based on two tools. The first is semi-structured interviews with actors of these mobilisations. The second consists in a textual content analysis of press articles related to these events.
Keywords: Squatting ; social movements ; vigilantism ; conservative mobilisations
Georgina Treloar
(University of Kent)
The Strategic Frames of Extinction Rebellion
Abstract: An analysis of the frames and framing processes of social movements can aid a better understanding not just of the construction of meaning within a movement, but also of its strategy, mobilisation of resources and positioning within the social movement landscape and wider societal contexts. The framing perspective is particularly useful for an analysis of Extinction Rebellion, especially in understanding how co-founders built the campaign in its nascency and how early members of local groups in the UK found resonance with the nascent campaign and committed to participate – many with no previous activist experience; this angle of analysis may help to explain XR’s rapid scale shift from a small band of activists to global mass movement. XR presented participants with a novel configuration of diagnostic, prognostic and motivational framings which made up what is defined in the literature as a social movement’s collective action frame. It also helped to propel the climate and ecological emergency master frame to prominence. Other strategic frames, framing processes and framing decisions were also of significance and contribute to XR’s historical distinctness. For example, an early strategic decision was made to suspend overt social justice frames and instead prioritise a moral imperative frame to motivate participation; nevertheless, injustice frames were implicit. XR also foregrounded a framing that previous movements had failed – positioning itself as a disruptor in the environmental movement landscape. Drawing on participant observation and primary data from in-depth interviews with co-founders and key activists, as well as members of a local UK group, I will present findings of an extensive frame analysis of XR in its nascency which forms the basis of my PhD project.
Keywords: Extinction Rebellion, Environmental Movement, Frame Analysis, Climate Emergency
12:15 – 13:30 Closing Lunch

Old Abbey Taphouse, Guildhall Close, M15 6SY. Registration required for food. Queries to Simin Fadaee.